Through the portraits of the cities I make a mould of the Soviet Union. The end result is a book, for me though process is more important. To publish the books I created a publishing house. Publisher pays for my travel expenses, and doesn’t give me a chance to relax, insisting on the job, even when I’m not in a mood. I receive a task — and go for a trip. I look at the map, I see the names of cities, then I read quite a bit about each, and intuitively choose the one I want to go. Often the Criteria is population, which shouldn’t exceed 300 thousand people, but this rule may be violated. The main aspect - the city should be in the former Soviet Union. For past four years i’ve been to a number of small russian towns, in Minsk (the capital of Belorussian SSR), Dresden (DDR), Palanga (Lithuanian SSR). In the nearest future i plan trips to Estonian SSR, Moldavian SSR, Latvian SSR.
I try to mimic soviet reality in my trips as close to the old days as possible. I only use trains, stay in an old soviet hotels, I make 35 mm black and white photos, that i later develop myself in a darkroom.
Beside photos and personal expirience I bring with me field recordings — they help grasp an atmosphere of the cities.
After I come back from the trip I start the second stage of work — making a book. I do more specific research: look through the articles, read old soviet architecture magazines, with the help of my friends try to find diaries of people who lived in USSR.
It’s important to me that the final art piece is the book. It’s critical for me to have a wast amount of time of the viewer, and this narration supposes intimacy: the book should be perceived by one, unlike painting, video or sculpture. it is always just you and it, there’s no other.
I can feel how history of USSR is mythologized, and I try to regain the true image of an era, for myself in the first place. I’m trying to understand my generation through this image. I was born in 1983 and spent first seven years of my life in 12-stores panel concrete house in Soviet Union, after that I have moved with my parents to the isolated farmstead with not a soul in area of a few kilometers. When we got back from there, I found myself in a different country with different rules.
I get to know new values, new behaviour paradigms, but on the inside there still is a pulsating subconscious knowledge about how things works; what you should do to be happy, what should be around you, what are your aims.
Since childhood I was raised to live in a desert, but then suddenly I was in the middle of the ocean in a tiny boat
Possibly all this thing about Gluschenkoizdat is a chase for myself, an attempt to find the missing pieces of my personality, to gain integrity; an attempt to proof the fact of my existence, an attempt to find and fixate the reality that made us who we are, that doesn’t exist anymore.
The important branch of my research is panel housing, that forms an outward — and therefore internal essence of Soviet Union.
In second-hand bookshops I find a lot of classic soviet books about cities. They’ve got symbolic signs of it’s time: architecture, factories, streets, people faces, shop windows. Even the style of it’s text is so unique that could be a subject of research itself.
These albums in a way defined the form of my books, they became like the same task, done other way around.
As for the publishing house — it’s inseparably linked with the kafkaesque expirience. When one finds oneself on the territory of Gluschenkoizdat, she or he stops understanding what is real, and what is not. It is a very stretched in time activity, that gradually dissolves the author; publishing house starts to eject your personality, makes it’s own rules, override you. I created a structure inside, that grows and becomes bigger then me. This experience is also one of the subjects of my research.