We made it to St Petersburg and have now sipped pinecone as well as pepper-honey flavored vodka. We have also seen a few locals who have indulged grandly in that famous clear spirit that Russia is famous for but its really beer that the locals seem to love. Some things seem very fluid here and others not as the canals begin to freeze. This is a grand city indeed especially in terms of scale, architecture and history. I walk about feeling the massive weight of the past all around me like a thick fog. My shoulders ache from too much history so perhaps I need a sauna or Banya to ease the stress I have accumulated.
It’s actually not the history that weighs me down as over the past months all these small exhibitions aligned with reunions have made me dizzy and somehow a little anxious but I am sure that I will get over this personal fatigue. Too much has happened over the past months. Too much has also happened here in St Petersburg/Leningrad/Petrograd during the past centuries for me to comprehend and now things happen very fast here just like all over the planet.
The SPAR residency here at Pushkinskaya 10 has great potential and its location is excellent. Having zero Russian language skills makes many things incomprehensible but we get by and slowly find our way about the city without too much trouble. An opening at the Marble palace involved lining up for an hour to shed our jackets then half an hour in another line to crawl up the massive marble staircase to get into a very crowded and popular retrospective of the many artists connected to the art center we stay in. After 30 years of being an underground cultural institution Pushkinskaya 10 has been officially acknowledged. To begin the show there was an interesting outside performance in the snow involving two artists in black costumes, air, earth, water, fire and canvases with painted texts.
Carolina and I also went to the 250th birthday party of The Hermitage Museum – a massive audio-visual outdoor show another snowy evening. This amazing museum with its 150 rooms of art is just too big to explore and then there is the spanking newly renovated General Staff building opposite which houses Kandinsky’s and one black square by Mr Kazimir Malevich. The Russian State Museum was also a treat to explore with a brilliant religious Icon exhibition and many other gems. I particularly enjoyed the Russian Miniature lacquered boxes. There is no shortage of art to look at in this impressive city.
I draw drunken trees, paint miniature nature morte based on a poem from Joseph Brodsky and sew soft diplomatic works. Carolina takes chilly strolls all over the city taking photographs. We presented some work in a small show on 13th December at the 2.04 Gallery in the Pushkinskaya 10 art Centre. A crowd of local artists and art lovers attended and all seemed contented with our presentation and our particular flavor of soft diplomacy.