It’s not all wine and roses when first you find yourself in a new city/country/continent. In fact, there are times when everything goes just a bit haywire. Why? Who knows? Do you think our plans to visit the Sad Garden put a hex on us? Let’s review the evidence:
The caffenol let us down. (Should we blame the tap water???)
Both Super 8 cameras stopped working at the same time. (Is it the “30F-feels-like-17” weather?)
Lisa got hit by a taxi. (She’s fine.)
Paolo fell down the stairs in the dark. (He’s fine.)
We gave a party and nobody came. (We’re fine. We ate all the cookies ourselves).
And, as mentioned, we made our way to the Sad Garden only to find it completely locked up! Later we realized that the word сад, pronounced “sad”, means garden. Ding dong!
But on even the most dubious of days, what can turn it all around?
Besides being the super efficient and helpful manager for CEC Artlink’s Back Apartment Residency, Liza Matveeva is also a talented independent curator, art advisor and founder of a Saint Petersburg artist fair. Her current exhibition–featuring ‘zines and corresponding artwork by a group of young local artists displayed at a secret art book library–is a total knockout. Of course these kinds of publications exploring and celebrating feminism, queerness, fringe cultures and protest politics are just the latest iteration of Russia’s long and storied history of underground literature, dissident distribution and anti-censorship activity. The actual library is chock full of cool art books and even more ‘zines and artist books. We shall return!
In the early evening, also on Liza’s recommendation, we made our way to another nondescript building in another corner of the city intending to check out an opening by FFTN but instead we got whisked into the wonderful world of an artist named Серге́й and his merry band of photographers, opera singers and assorted other bon vivants. Серге́й showed us his amazing body of work while we sipped champagne and talked about war and peace, still life paintings, Ukraine, and love. As we were leaving, he gifted us my favorite work of all: a sketch of a woman representing Springtime. Beautiful.
Cherry on top: we discovered a basement full of raccoons on the way home!
Not such a Sad Day after all…