PENNLAB Gallery is the latest photography space to open its doors in the Russian capital. To celebrate the gallery’s launch, curators and artists Elena Anosova, Anastasia Tsayder, and Petr Antonov teamed up together with architect Lilya Sabirova to create Herbarium, an exhibition featuring 70 works by 16 of Russia’s young and emerging photo-based artists.
Herbarium is a collection of works that explore fragility and tenderness. Featured photographer Marina Istomina studies the Siberian landscape that is being transformed by climate change before our eyes, while Olga Vorobyova shoots portraits of women from a small Crimean town in a bid to document femininity across different generations. The photographers capture fleeting moments and deliberately aestheticise them, questioning how the resulting images relate to the experience itself. Some go to great lengths to create these projects, like Igor Elukov, whose Book of Miracles involved no less than 40 people working behind the scenes. All of these artists explore subjects that are deeply personal to them, bringing their stories into the public space, and balancing intuition and sincerity with a critical approach.
The timing of the exhibition, launched just as Moscow is released from lockdown, adds another dimension to our perception of each work, reminding us of the fragility of a world only now starting to heal after the pandemic. Nastya Bezrukova’s work Sanatorium, shot in 2019, now appears to be a metaphor for quarantine. “It may seem that the artists celebrate the beauty of the pre-coronavirus era, a time when daily news rarely concerned one personally, when one could expect their world, themselves included, to last forever,” say the curators in their statement.
Discover more of the exhibition by exploring six of its featured projects, previously published on The Calvert Journal.