Alex McGrath interviews an oppositional journalist and polictical activist Boris Vishnevsky
Meeting with Svetlana Afanasyeva, the Head of The Okhta Center Press Service
When I chose the topic of my research way back in February I had no idea where the project would take me. Admittedly, I picked this project almost on a whim. I read one article, was curious, and the due date to pick something had arrived. But now, almost 6 months later, the project has become my primary academic work, and every day I see how much deeper the rabbit whole goes.
The memory site I’m examining in St. Petersburg, is Mikhail Chemiakin’s monument to Peter the Great. The statue opened to the public inside the Peter and Paul Fortress (Peter’s creation and the former prison known as the Russian Bastille) in 1991, the year when the Soviet Empire fell. Chemiakin’s representation of Peter the Great has sparked a lot of controversy over the years because the statue is a very unconventional representation of the city’s founder.
Today we are all putting on our Dorothy’s shoes and tap our heels together three times.
Wish us a safe trip home 🙂
Thank you, Masha!
Thank you, Nastia!
Our research projects would not be even remotely successful without our collaborators from the School of Journalism: Tamara Dedikova, Masha Nefedova, Arina Malikova, and Anastasia Vasilyeva. At our farewell dinner we thanked them for their great job! We will stay in touch with them in the fall semester during the post-production stage of our projects . But for now we say: “See you soon!”
Our Program in Russia is almost over. William and Mary students did a lot of work in
classes, during numerous field trips and most importantly pursuing their
independent inquiries. Each of them worked on her own research project. As
part of their research project they are writing a paper and making a
documentary (it will be ready in November).
The focus of my research here in St. Petersburg is the city’s new Marine Façade, an urban development project taking place on the westernmost edge of Vasilievsky Island. As with any substantial development project, especially one being built in such an historic area, the Marine Façade has caused quite a bit of controversy. The Façade project consists of three major parts: a new passenger port for cruise liners, a modern business/residential district, and a new highway, the Western High Speed Diameter. The entire area is to be built on a layer of “precoating,” 450 hectares of land that are being reclaimed from the Neva Bay.
A Screenshot from my Smolensky Cemetery Footage
I chose for my research project Smolensky cemetery on Vasilyevsky Island, the oldest continuously operating cemetery of St. Petersburg. Researching Smolensky cemetery has been both a privilege and a pleasure. Specifically I focused on the cemetery as a common place shared two communities: the Orthodox parish and the local goth community. Continue reading
Peter the Great did not allow to build the bridges in St. Petersburg because he wanted everyone to use ships and boats and thus develop shipbuilding in the new Russian capital. He also ordered his architects to focus on building the city’s embankments, that is the streets facing the city’s numerous channels and rivers, because his subjects were supposed to travel around the empire’s new capital primarily via its waterways. Today we followed the emperor’s will and took a boat tour of the city.
a 1938 Soviet poster advertising mayo
Russians struggle to overcome their Soviet past in many areas, and the atrocious “Soviet cuisine” is one of the indispensable components of this haunting past. Arguably, three major ingredients of the Red cuisine are mayonnaise, spam, and cheap alcohol. With few exceptions, every restaurant in contemporary Russia, no matter the price range, tries to poison you with these three key ingredients. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, God help you.. Spam and mayo are out of the question. So what is left to sustain you? This is a rhetorical question.
After five weeks in St. Petersburg, adventure after adventure, and lots of lessons learned, I feel like I’m on my way to having an absolutely awesome research project (not that I wasn’t on my way before I got here). When I proposed this project, I was working off of a theme that was assigned for our study abroad program. For that assignment, we were looking at sites of memory in St. Petersburg, and developing short documentary films around interviews and filmed footage taken in the city. With that project in mind, I took my site, Pushkinskaya-10, and found a similar site in Vilnius, Fluxus Ministerija, and am now seeking to document their parallel existence with regard to the importance of physical space to artists and the legacy of unofficial art in the Soviet Union.