Vladimir Levashov and Sergey Sapozhnikov will meet to discuss Sapozhnikov’s recent project The City and his artist’s book of the same name. Looking at the aesthetic potential of our habitual environments in Russian cities, they will discuss the project’s international context and the New Topographics movement.
The figure of a contemporary artist interested in physical reality rather then in new theories and strategies seems an intriguing one. Such is the figure we sense behind Sergey Sapozhnikov’s photo project that blends traditions of architectural and street photography and turns “simple and precise documentation” (Sergey Sapozhnikov) into a means of artistic expression. Sapozhnikov’s main interest lies in the space of anonymity most of us inhabit but fail to register, unconsciously dismissing our environment unless we have to focus on its particular elements. Rediscovered by Eugène Atget and French surrealists, this invisible space has been most profoundly explored by American photographers: from Walker Evans to the New Topographics movement, which has also influenced the Dusseldorf School of Photography.
Due to its total submission to ideology, Russian photography was until recently unable to produce a similar movement. Although similar phenomena could be found in other arts—from Mikhail Roginsky to Irina Korina—they invited a totally different kind of visual experience. Only recently small islands of street photography have begun to form in Russian photographic practice. Each of them is different and this discussion will explore one of the most interesting of them.