Street art has rarely received praise and accolades. St Petersburg’s Street Art Museum is set to change the deep seated stagnancy of high art. Opened by father and son, Dmitri and Andrei Zaitsev, the museum aims to create a cultural hub that focuses on change and movement rather than conservation. It is located in a Soviet-era factory on the North Eastern side of St Petersburg.
As a city, St Petersburg is an anachronism. It is a token of history that has been carefully preserved. Peter the Great founded the city in 1703. He hoped to create a “European style” capital that contained the cultured atmosphere of Western Europe. There are several cultural institutions that have made it a popular tourist hub.
Dmitri Zaitsev commented that they live in “a dead space”. Only buildings built in the last 100-150 years exist. He comments that it is about having “our backs to the future”.
As a museum, this is a brilliant point to think about the turbulence of Russia’s past century. Many institutions have been idolised and then “repurposed, or abandoned and left to crumble after the fall of the old regime”.
The art inside aren’t your typical collector’s pieces. For one thing, they have to be closely looked at. Is this art? Or, is this junk? Moreover, the object’s relationship to the space has also to be considered. Why is this placed here? What exactly is being evoked? Rather than series of pictures to be seen, the exhibition has to be experienced.
The St Petersburg visitor site has an interesting description of the place. It is treated as an evolving project rather than an established museum. They see it as the “unification of industrial post-soviet ethics, the nerve of real life and young street art as the main thesis of the project”.