The Street Art Museum in Saint Petersburg is a remarkable place in many ways. It’s exactly there where it is needed most. It is making the rights statements. It’s new and it’s exciting. It’s not a museum though. It has the potential to give the word museum a new meaning. It’s a laboratory. A laboratory of what the world of art, events and entrepreneurship need most today.
I met Ksenia in Moscow. Some months ago on the Cultural Forum that is organized in the Mange every year. Ksenia works for the Museum of Street Art. I did my presentation, she did her presentation and we were in the same workshop. We both knew that we had to get together to speak. We did. We talked about projects. And I decided I had to get there.
February is a cold month in Saint Petersburg. The sum was shining the day I went and compared to the last time I was there, which must have been somewhere in the nineties, a lot had changed. The city is big in a significant way. It may once have got it’s inspiration from Amsterdam’s canals but everything here is on a completely different scale. The city attracts a lot of visitors. The sidewalks are big. Novy Prospect (the main artery) is big. The river Neva is huge. The Hermitage Museum has no word to describe it’s dimensions.
Early Monday morning a taxi picks me up to bring me to the outskirts of town where the Street Art Museum is located. It’s as far away from the city as I expected. Ksenia is waiting there for me to visit the site. And even though I saw the presentation, and even though I have been to many places, the reality here is quite overwhelming. Street Art Museum is located in a real factory. People are working there. Not every building is in use. It’s a mishmash of architectural styles, maybe you can not even use the word architecture here. There are huge wall paintings, murals and gratifies in spaces where people work and that are filled with machines. There are art works everywhere.
I really cant say if the art is good or bad. I think the art is amazing. It is contemporary, it discusses the issues of today. This is why it has to be done here, in a working environment. Its about Russia today. It’s about Russia and the rest of the world. It’s about the Ukraine. It’s about homosexuality. One of the most dramatic works is not a drawing at all but an enormous amount of text. I read the English translation later. And understood better than ever why I had to be here.
A statement on street art
We look at some renovations that are on their way. The team will soon have a new office in one of the buildings. I like the whole idea. The combination of a working factory with creative workspaces. Maybe the creatives can start to work with the materials that are produced here.
An hour or so later we drink a tea. I’m introduced to the other team members. We warm up and start to see more of the premises. Here are the cellars with art on the walls. There are the broken down floors, rooms without walls, empty rooms that can only be reached through dark corridors. Art is everywhere.
We walk to the public area. This is where public events are organized. That’s the idea: a combination of a public space where – especially in summer – all kinds of street art can take place next to a working environment based on the production of “raw materials”. In between that creative spaces that can profit from both the factory and the events.
The place may be relatively far away from the city centre but it has the potential to be a destination. Hidden in the outskirts of town but near enough to Saint Petersburg to profit from it’s appeal to the rest of the world. This place but even more this idea has a lot to offer.
All religions have to live nicely together
Eyes in the dark
Ukraine asks Russia for help