After graduating from university in my home town, I moved to St. Petersburg. Like many new arrivals, I needed to rent a place stay. Since I usually rented rooms in shared apartments, the fate of staying in a communal apartment did not pass me by. So one day I found myself in a huge 33-room communal apartment in the city center.
From the moment I moved in, that apartment had been raising a whole range of emotions in me: from disgust to admiration. The less I felt comfortable there, the more I wanted to take pictures of the communal life, as if photography made the communal world clearer to me. The most paradoxical to me was the fact that complete strangers are forced to cohabitate in the communal apartments, which generates a lot of amusing phenomena. For example, the demarcation of spaces into communal and private ones that causes common spaces to look impersonal and orphaned and private spaces, as a rule, are filled with comfort and convey the characters of the tenants very well. While photographing, I studied the peculiarities of communal life, I tried to understand how people share a space and where common areas end where private ones begin, how and where comfort and privacy is possible in a communal apartment.
In the process of this photographic study, I came to conclusion that interiors and everyday objects that belong to the tenants can be quite eloquent. I found that things can tell you even more than the people themselves. Like silent witnesses, they are able to tell stories about former and current tenants, about what is today and what was twenty years ago. Each shot from my series is a way of telling about people, time and space. I wanted to create a kind of spatio-temporal cast of that atmosphere. At least, I would like to think I did.
The experience of living in one of the 33 rooms was my first and only experience of staying in a communal apartment. I moved out five years ago, and for all these five years I have been photographing the interiors of communal apartments, listening to the stories the walls have to tell.
Данный проект посвящен такому феномену как коммунальные квартиры. Коммунальные квартиры стали появляться в России в начале 20 века и существуют до сих пор. Такие квартиры сильно отличаются от частного жилья: они живут по другим правилам, обладают своим языком и особенной атмосферой. Петербург считается столицей коммуналок и я, будучи приезжим жителем, попала в большую 33-комнатную коммуналку. Жизнь в этой квартире удивила и потрясла меня, в чем-то даже заворожила. Я не смогла там жить и вскоре переехала, но мой интерес к таким квартирам не оставляет меня до сих пор. Я хожу в разные квартиры и продолжаю снимать об этой удивительной жизни, где среди всего общего есть что-то частное, где среди старых стен и неубранных коридоров есть порядок и уют, где среди сиротских стен и необустроенности есть добро и личное счастье. Мне интересно до сих пор разбираться в этом культурно-социальном феномене.
This project is dedicated to the phenomenon of the communal apartments. Communal apartments started appearing in Russia in the beginning of the 20th century and still exist. Such apartments differ significantly from private housing: they live separate lives, posses their own language and atmosphere. Saint-Petersburg is considered to be the capital of communal apartments where I found myself in the 33-room communal flat after moving from my home town. Life in that apartment surprised and shocked me, in some ways even fascinated me. Living there was not for me and I soon moved, however my interest in such apartments hasn't left until now. I visit different communal apartments and continue shooting that amazing life where among everything "communal" there is something that stays "private", where there is some order and comfort among old walls and cluttered hallways, where there is some kindness and private happiness among orphaned walls and chaos. I am very curious to understand this cultural and social phenomenon.