Herbarium: a Moscow exhibition explores tenderness through Russian photography

25 February 2021

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.

Alexander Veryovkin. Gazing at the Post-Soviet, 2019
Alexander Veryovkin. Gazing at the Post-Soviet, 2019
Mariya Kozhanova. Distant Thunder, 2016
Mariya Kozhanova. Distant Thunder, 2016

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.

Herbarium: a Moscow exhibition explores tenderness through Russian photography

Igor Elukov seeks harmony with the tenacious and ominous forces of nature

Herbarium: a Moscow exhibition explores tenderness through Russian photography

Ilya Batrakov explores the magical landscape where he spent his childhood

Herbarium: a Moscow exhibition explores tenderness through Russian photography

Daria Nazarova documents the life of a St Petersburg eco-collective that makes sustainability fun

Herbarium: a Moscow exhibition explores tenderness through Russian photography

Nastya Bezrukova takes us to a surreal world existing inside a Soviet sanatorium

Herbarium: a Moscow exhibition explores tenderness through Russian photography

Marina Istomina delves into the mythology of an endangered Siberian landscape

Herbarium: a Moscow exhibition explores tenderness through Russian photography

Olga Vorobyova draws inspiration from the women of a small Crimean town


The exhibition will run from 25 February to 18 April at PENNLAB Gallery, Moscow.

Read more

Herbarium: a Moscow exhibition explores tenderness through Russian photography

A visual diary of a Russian river, providing direction in moments of doubt

Herbarium: a Moscow exhibition explores tenderness through Russian photography

Siberia-based photographer Roma Gostev captures the snow-coated serenity of his city Nizhnevartovsk

Herbarium: a Moscow exhibition explores tenderness through Russian photography

The farthest shore: peaceful scenes from Primorsky Krai, Russia’s crossroads with China