‘I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhguiser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die’.
Roy Batty ‘Blade Runner’
The project of Saint Petersburg artist Nadezda Anfalova ‘Spaceport’, which won the competition for young artists ‘New projects for Anna Nova gallery’, consists of several large-size, black-and-white photographs and light projections, creating an illusion of the photographical objects’ shadows extension into the gallery’s space.
A well-known rocket-slide, welded from iron rods, which until recently used to be an omnipresent attribute of children playgrounds, quite wonderfully got to the Moon. Now this beautiful island, embodying the last Soviet generations dream about the cosmic adventures, is placed lonely in an alien desert. A miracle happened, but nowadays it’s not interesting any more – the forgotten attraction is becoming rusty in the outskirts of the universe. Mankind, tired of strains, stresses and sacrifices required for the ‘bright future’, starting from the 1980-es has been losing interest in space exploration. But what arouses more sympathy – Nikolai Fedorov’s ideas of ‘fathers’ resurrection’ that led to the creation of the rockets that were, according to Tsiolkovsky, to ship the odd population of the Earth to try new worlds or the present shallow social cynicism? Can the prevailing fantasy genre overpower science fiction? Can the childhood dream to be a cosmonaut replace space tourism and the virtual reality of computer games? In our present-day reality, where art got stuck in design and there seems to be no possibility for a free and original gesture, the dangerous margin of unknown is always here and waits for us outside the doorstep. The shadow of the childhood rocket skeleton from the Moon, from the photograph is reaching out for us into the gallery’s space, giving a spectator a possibility to recall the charm and the power of the immediate past illusions.
At the same time there is a real rocket-slide exhibited in the gallery – a ruin and a rarity in the modern Saint Petersburg landscape. Fist time I saw a rocket like that in the Tavricheski Garden in about 1964, it made a big impression on my child’s mind. The design of its construction, associating with the fine, constructiv furniture of 1950-60-es and the Order of Beggaring Artists ‘petroglyphes’, was so successful that these rockets stayed where they were set for 30 years; even having lost their covering. There aren’t many people who can remember that the corrugated plastic (motley and crude) was falling off the rockets during all those years. The children playgrounds used to play a very important, magical role in the cultural ecology of old Petersburg, which has, in the last ten years, gone through the destruction much bigger than during the whole previous century. In the end of the 1960-es came an end of the children playgrounds ‘great epoch’ and they were replaced by euro-standard constructions.
Nadezda Anfalova’s ‘Spaceport’ touches the true chords of those souls who spent their childhood in these ‘temples’ that used to be the areas of incredible liberty.