Yes, it was a while. During these weeks of absence I worked for Frieze London, went back to Italy and traveled to Scotland. I passed a marketing exam, which deserve a separate story and I am back today with an impulse from Photo101 challenge. And the first task was… the image of home.
I am a deeply urban creature; I breathe with polluted air and walk along the rivers with lead water. My sky is limited with the edges of houses and my ground circled in the rings of yards. I love the urban, the quintessence of urban, together with its mess, concentrations of people, decadence, chaotic movements, pollution, traffic, high crime rates and other depressing statistics from the books of urban development – the typical imaginary of hell. I love the very greyness of the pavement, buildings, sky and its reflection in the water, the characterlessness of the 6-million crowd in the faded underground. My native city is the 50 shades of grey under the white nights of cold summer and total of 62 sunny days per year. Yes, a slight sadness and thoughtfulness never leave you along there, as well as in any depersonalized urban crowd in the world, you are pursued by the same damn loneliness. I am a XXI century Nomadic, wandering from a big city to the bigger. I don’t know anymore, where is my home, and I do not remember, how it looks like, but in my nightmares all 6 million of faded crowd visit me, under the lead sky reflected in a dark water running through numerous bridges.
I live with the city, I breathe with the city, I dream about the city – and more and more often I have nightmares.
This week, the Daily Post Photo Challenge topic is signs. I do not know, how much actually a sign can mean for a driver, apart from the order to obey the rules, but for me – it is the whole world.
St. Petersburg is a city without graffiti – the fist time I learn what was it from the course book of English, where graffiti was used to illustrate the word-to-learn “eye-sore” :). And as I lived about 1,5 hours from the city center, each time I took train I sat on the certain site of it, to see the covered with pictures small small part of garages alone the railway. It was 90-s.
Graffiti never became spread in St Petersburg – what is sprayed overnight is washed or colored by 6am by street keepers. Of cause, they try to save colours and that’s why walls are covered with the patches of the whole range of yellow. I guess in several years this mosaics can become a form of street art in itself.
Rome is an exceptional place for me, and some very important events in my life happened there (funny, isn’t it?). The first time I came in late October, when in St Petersburg the water ponds were frozen in the morning, and in just three hours I entered the hot Roman autumn day with +27C. It was an exception, but a kind of exceptions I appreciate. I came alone, found my small flat next to Vatican, put a t-shirt and went for my big adventure. I was hanging on the streets day long, entering all churches, sneaking in all corners and peeping in every hall. I have this kind of aesthetics: I love to take pictures of windows, doors, small elements – the famous monuments were photographed by professionals million times and much better than I could do it. And I’ve noticed something exceptional, what I could not explain. A sign. It was orange, rusty, very old looking (not old enough to suppose ancient Romans forgot it there). It was a clash, beyond the explanation and understanding. Who did it, and why? Later on, I saw another sign, with crucifixion.
I do not remember, how did I figure out about the sign history. It was a French street artist, Clet Abraham, who put his stickers to the signs across many cities. He does it, as a way to fight against the spoiling ugliness of signs, put everywhere, disregarding the surrounding (before monuments in Rome, like on the picture). Never since I looked at the sign in the same way: I found out a lot of his works, I have the complete collection of pictures of each and every his piece across Milan, and highlights of some works from other cities. People always ask me, where could I find them? Actually they all are in the very center, on the most seen and visited streets. The paradox of street art: it is meant for everybody, but not all notice it.
Now in Rome there is a street, where every sign is retouched by Clet. As I usually joke, in 50 years, when people will finally understand the crucial importance of street art, the street will be name after Clet Abraham, and I will proudly show to my grandchildren the old pictures, made with bad iPhone 3 camera, and tell them, how important is to see, not just to watch.
P.S. I went to say hi to Clet, and the sign is still there, still rusty and orange, even more ancient looking than before – it became the part of the Roman history, glorious, but fading away.
“Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased,” Polo said. “Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.”
So never to loose My Venice, I will never ever tell about it… Just show you some pictures from it’s everyday, simple and cracking life