Any discussion of Saint Petersburg risks running into a specific solemn language. In Soviet years, the vocabulary of the Golden Age of Russian literature was employed to conserve the city in its past. As a result, Saint Petersburg became recognized through a cluster of recycled labels – regal, official, imperial. Even “white nights” turned from a strictly latitudinal phenomenon into a dusty cultural construct, a backdrop for tourist strolls along bridges and embankments of the “museum city”.
A step-by-step refusal of outdated language brought us to the most basic layer – the city as a collection of natural materials, transported from nearby deposits into the Neva delta and assembled there in a certain order. We followed these routes to their sources – quarries, pits, mines. The project shows the city as a number of fractures and cavities, left by extraction of rocks and minerals used in its construction. Marble tiers, granite stages, clay strata containing sand lenses – all make up the crust of the city, remaining after the flesh was scraped out of it. Saint Petersburg has frequently been considered a phantom city or a mythical city – an abstract utopian project, brought to life through sheer willpower, at a great price and against all odds. Moving from abstract to concrete, we can also claim that it is an anthropogenic geological process, a massive work of land art, dislocated earth.