Artist: Anna Viola Hallberg,
Production Year: 2008
Format: Video/slideshow, region free mediafile
Music: Civilians by Mikael Karlsson and Rob Stephenson
During the month of August in 2008 Anna Viola Hallberg photographed Street Expressions predominantly in the the central parts of St Petersburg, Russia but also in suburbs such as Primorskaya. It is a documentation of well over 200 images; stencil art, linedrawings and posters. With some exeptions she has not covered the related genre of graffiti.The agenda behind this expressions in public space are as varied as the artists. It links in to a tradition carried out through out the world however in a former totalitarian society this is a powerful platform reaching out to the citizens. Targeting an audience much broader than traditional spaces such as a gallery would. In Russia there is also a link between street art and the tradition that was active already in the Soviet years with posting newspapers on walls
The public space is infused with hand printed illustrations often referred to as stencil art, expression that at times co-exist with paintings and drawings. They appear on facades and on streets and pavements, on buildings in industrial or abandoned areas as well as in the mercantile centers. The ones collected in St Petersburg, Russia in 2007 made quite strong impression on me as they also took the form of direct political comments they brought me to the point of the conversation between Lady Philosophy and Boethius; “no man can ever truly be secure until he has been forsaken by Fortune”. The street expressions in St Petersburg can be perceived as a dialog not between Boethius and Lady Philosophy but rather between the citizens and the governance. The strong neo liberal tendencies interlaced with the orthodox church becomes a platform one can relate to the reasoning of harmony between faith and reason found in “Consolation of Philosophy” a early printed book with many hand-printed illustrations of daily life in 1485. The street expressions is an iconography of something to believe in something to unite behind. In 2007 in some places in St Petersburg the daily newspapers were posted in bulletin vitrine for the by passers. In one way the street art with its political undertones should also be seen in reference to this phenomena and then in the functionality of unedited comments on the contemporary. The dont depict situation but rather conditions of everyday life.
In her practice she investigates issues of power relations, politics/poetics of visual representation and history writing. The group and group identity are central matters. The works are often presented in spatial installations interlocked with seminars or workshops. Hallberg has a special interest for civil liberties and issues of democracy. In an ongoing project she explores how it has been carried in public space especially the tension in between order and disorder, as well as functionality and uselessness linking contemporary society and the Renaissance. In this work she looks back at early publications such as Boethiu’s Consolation of Philosophy a work to wich Street Expressions from St Petersburg are reflected.
- Take Action! 83 Ways to Change the World at Museum of World Culture, Gothenburg, Sweden, Jan 17th, 2008 – April 19th, 2009