The idea of The City of Shadows emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the fall of 1991. One day I strolled down a street, as dusk descended. It was poorly lit. The depressing and strange quietness was only interrupted by the sounds of banging rocery stores’ doors, stores in which the shelves were absolutely empty. I saw people in confusion, on the verge of insanity: unattractively dressed men and women with eyes full of sorrow and desperation. They looked like shadows … Nothing similar had occurred since World War II, when the Nazis blockaded the city.
A crowd of people flowing near the subway station formed a sort of human sea, providing me with a feeling of non-reality, a phantasmagoria. These people resembled shadows from the underworld, a world visited by Aeneas, Virgil’s character. My impressions as well as my emotional state were enormously profound and long lasting. I felt an intense urge to articulate this suffering and despair, to visualize the “peopleghosts,” to awaken empathy and love for my native city’s inhabitants, people who have been constantly victimized and ruined during the course of the twentieth century.
My impressions were enhanced by music of Shostakovich, certain phrases from his Second Cello Concerto and his 13th Symphony especially resonated with the atmosphere of the city.
Alexey Titarenko‘s St. Petersburg-serie udstilles i øjeblikket på Nailya Alexander Gallery i New York. Serien består af 4 sekvenser med titlerne The City of Shadows, The Anonymous, The Light of Saint Petersburg og Unfinished time.
Titarenko blev født i St. Petersburg (daværende Leningrad) i 1962, og byen spiller hovedrollen i hans billeder, eller mere præcist; byens sjæl og dermed også Ruslands sjæl.
Han har gennem de senere år vundet stigende anerkendelse i Europa og USA for sine dystre og poetiske billeder, taget med en langsom lukketid, som bl.a. leder tankerne hen på Fjodor Dostojevskijs protagonist Raskolnikov i Forbrydelse og Straf.
Dette er det andet indlæg af (foreløbig) to, om fotografer med forankring i det kommunistiske Østeuropa.