This work has been developed over three trips to Vladivostok. During the research, the connection between Vladivostok and the city... Read More
This work has been
developed over three trips to Vladivostok. During the research, the connection
between Vladivostok and the city located on the opposite shore of the Pacific
Ocean - San Francisco - suddenly emerged.
The first sensation
of mirroring between two cities arose in 1959, when Khrushchev, after his first
trip to the United States, suddenly announced that Vladivostok would one day
become the second San Francisco. The two cities have indeed much in common - hilly
terrain, proximity to the ocean, port infrastructure, Golden Gate bay on the
one side, Golden Horn - on the other. But this ambitious statement seemed
incredible in the late 1950s, when Vladivostok was a remote province, a closed
naval base, notorious in the recent past as one of the transit
camps of DalLag (Far East Penitentiary Labour Camp). “San Francisco” sounded then as a promise of a better
In the 1960s,
Vladivostok began to be actively built, and pretty soon the fantasies about the dream-city
stumbled over the project put into practice. The city has gradually overgrown with standard block
houses, while the tops of the hills were abandoned to arbitrary bricolage and occupied by
warehouses, landfills, sheds and DIY parking garages. The paradox and the irony
of this situation lie in the fact that these spots offer the best views.
I thought that this
extreme contrast between the two landscapes – the proximate and the distant – would
define Vladivostok best. At
the same time these contraries are inseparably linked to each other : the
nearest landscape creates and maintains the longing for the most distant one.
To reveal this tension between the proximate and the distant I chose a spot where it was particularly striking : the
parking garage cooperative “Armaturshchik”, that offers one of the best
postcard views of the city - the view of the Russian bridge. So, I turned one car
garage into a photo camera of the simplest design – a camera obscura with the
back side covered with photosensitive paper - and in 15 hours of exposure I
obtained a photograph, with a pylon of the bridge in the center of the image. The
bridge appeared in Vladivostok in 2012 and immediately became the main symbol
of the city. As it happened in San Francisco once. Since Khrushchev's visit, the
idea of San Francisco in Vladivostok has been forgotten. However, the longing
for an abstract America manifested
itself within the landscape half a century later.
The final shot is
accompanied by documentary materials, including one photograph of San
Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, made, by a happy coincidence, by a friend
artist, Alexey Buldakov, on the same day that I did my garage photograph in Vladivostok.
More images and details can be found at this link : https://www.elizavetakonovalova.com/san-francisco