(Saint Petersburg, Russia)
The Ivan Gaza Palace of Culture is little by little falling into disrepair. Most of its walls are surrounded by a barbed wire fence, likely because the plasterwork is crumbling off; the ribbon windows and semi-circular avant-corps ( a part of the façade projecting out from the building) with its spiral staircase are either boarded up or blocked off; the observatory dome has been missing for some time. The stonework of the front porch is also crumbling away—local authorities dutifully stack the stone fragments around the corner. The state of the building is what we would typically describe as dire.
It is seemingly obvious to everyone that the Palace of Culture (the name given to a Soviet club-house or art community center) is in need of repairs, but nobody seems to be able to identify where to start. The artist proposes her own starting point – the stonework of the building’s front porch. She chooses one of the empty niches and tries to arrange the stones to fit snugly inside, picking out stones of the correct shape. In order to do this, she measured all the currently available stones and created 3D models of them. By shuffling them around and arranging them relative to each other, the artist tries to guess the pattern of the original image. However, the outcome of this process has been subpar – large gaps are left between the stones, and they do not fit as perfectly as the surrounding materials. Was this job even worth attempting, and is it possible to restore that which has been destroyed?
Born in 1985, Anna Martynenko lives and works in St. Petersburg. After studying Scenography at the Theater Arts Academy (now the Russian State Institute of Performing Arts), she took part in various theater projects as a set designer. Since 2014, she has been working as a media artist, creating objects, installations, site-specific and public art projects. Anna graduated from the School of Young Artists (a project of the PRO ARTE Foundation) and the New Media Laboratory (at the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theater). She has been a participant of group exhibitions, fairs and festivals, while her personal projects have been exhibited at the Sound Museum, FFTN Gallery, Nepokorenye 17 studio. In her works, she researches communication and language systems, observes and transforms various kinds of information, including working with sound.