Manifesta10 - Vitebsky Station St. Petersburg
The project Transformers St. Petersburg arose from the narratives of the resourceful labor force of legal and illegal migrants, who with limited resources and opportunities, are ‘making do’ in Russia today. Transformers is an ode to the creative and resilient attitude needed to survive in contemporary Russian society. This “transformer attitude” stands in sharp contrast to the general perception of immigrants, and within Russian in particular.
My aim is to submerge you, its user, into the everyday life of the citizens of St. Petersburg. Let yourself be guided through what could be called a form culinary diplomacy, a meandering trajectory through the histories, sensory pleasures, and ongoing political struggles underpinning St. Petersburg’s many markets, such as Maltsevsky, Sitny and Sennoy. These are the spaces within the city where you will find Caucasians and Central Asians standing on common ground through the necessity for, and the power of, self-organization. Without doubt, their situation is precarious. My encounters and discussions with Central Asian migrants, local researchers and activists, has revealed the extensive exploitation facilitated by institutionalized corruption, operating even at the level of these markets, and to which this migrant labor force is constantly subjected.
Transformers St. Petersburg includes a website, drawings, an installation and a map. Together these various elements form a monument to those who were harmed or killed in the streets of St. Petersburg for being non-Slavic. Transformers is in keeping with Darakhvelidze’s ongoing work in the field of art broadcasting. Committed to the notion that art is a potent site to experiment with modes of communication, the artist continuously investigates ways of presenting political and engaged positions that the public would not otherwise have access to in mainstream media.