Ted- St Petersburg

The Chto Delat pamphlet was largely fragmented because most of it was written in Russian. The portions that were translated were done so in broken English; however, there would be portions of the pamphlet that were written well enough without some of its meaning being lost in translation. One of these portions was the Chronic of the Action “The  foundation of Saint Petersburg” and Manifesto 003.

This protest movement started on the 300th anniversary celebrating the Russian capital city, Saint Petersburg and all the progress it as made; however, the protestors saw this anniversary as nothing more than a celebration of a stagnation of culture, “largely seen as a tomb, a necropolis of the aristocratic prerevolutionary culture”. This 300th anniversary, while clearly marked the many achievements of the long and many advancements throughout the history of Saint Petersburg, it also highlighted the lack of progress made in the most recent decade, especially the time following the fall of the USSR.

“The excess of the historical feeling
degrades into the antiquarian, uncritical attitude to the past and covertly subverts the present.
It subverts the possibility of the future – of the project, a draft, that would, in a utopian way,
anticipate and affirm the future.”

So instead of a traditional celebration of the city by going to the center and marching in a parade, the protest, “The foundation of Saint Petersburg” instead went away from the city center, away from the anachronistic culture, hoping to escape the old ways and “lay the foundations” of a new city center that incorporates modern innovations and advancements. After they were stopped by armed policemen, they were detained and taken to the police station where they had a four hour “discussion”. It was after this discussion that the protestors deemed the place as the new city center,placing a stone there as a symbol of their motion. Perhaps the discussion that occurred and the complete release of the protestors (given they had to pay fines) was itself a representation of the progress that was made that day in contrast to the days of the USSR when instead of being let go, the protestors would most likely be detained and sent to prison. By being freed with little penalty except fines for illegal marching, the protestors must have had a feeling that there is hope for advancement in the culture of Saint Petersburg.

This aggravation with society and culture that has been taken from the hands of the people is apparent in this piece. However, unlike several other movements of the past that refuse to collaborate with the State and other forms of authority and/or organization, the Manifesto 003 says:

“We have to work on the persistent transformation of the city environment – streets, squares,
houses, sculptures, transportation, journals, collective actions. The city authorities, on their
part, should involve the modern avant-garde artists while planning the city space.”

Currently, they see the city authorities as blind to progresses made by the modern avant-garde artists. This is apparent to them based on the aesthetics of the city itself. Instead of modern buildings being erected, “what is built is nothing but the cowardly imitation”. The writers of the Manifesto 003 strongly believe that the city has much potential to truly advance and become like the Saint Petersburg that was known for its modernity if the authorities and the modern artists work together.


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