#7:Drift. Narvskaya Zastava


Alexei Lepork /// Memories of Narvskaya Zastava

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I can’t say that I have any personal connection to Narvskaya Zastava. In my personal perception from childhood onward, this neighborhood seems very far away. And this is what makes this neighborhood so strange. Because if you look at it rationally, it’s actually quite close to the center. You don’t actually have to travel very far; you only have to cross the Obvodny Canal and drive down Petergof Prospect or Gaza , as it was been called for all of my life, for as long as I can remember. On the one hand, it’s very close, but on the other, this neighborhood is very far away, as far as psychology is concerned.

So let’s say you’ve reached Repin Square . On the one side, there’s the Admiralty. On the other side of Repin Square , the Fontanka River ends. You already have the feeling that you’ve reached the end: gate, bridge; the end of the city. If you drive on, you’ll have reached Narvskaya Zastava, and you’ll already have the feeling that everything is different.

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Sofia Tchouikina /// Situationist Sociology in Narvskaya Zastava

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Official history can be juxtaposed to the memory of silent social groups. To the official version of the past, this memory is undesirable and even dangerous. Thus, we would like to add a number of missing elements to the official memory of Petersburg and Leningrad , which we find boring in its organicity (and dangerous in its consequences). More specifically, we would like to give a voice to those who do not usually write articles or memoirs about their view of the city, about their city. In today’s spectacular society, it turns out that no-one really wants a history of Narvskaya Zastava and its memory of a proletarian area, of social projects, or of the unsuccessful attempts to build communism and to accommodate the disenfranchised.

The territory behind the Narva Gate represents an embodiment of socialism’s homogenizing influence. We can read this space as a system of significance whose meanings are supplied by socialist reconstructions, aesthetically negated by the ideology of young, wild capitalism. This area was meant to typify the victory of the revolution and of social equality, the triumph of the urban way of life over the rural, the supremacy of a worker’s neighborhood over the center, and the privilege of worker’s avantgarde, the industrial administration and the factories’ party elite.

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Alexei Penzin /// The Last Temptation of the Flaneaur

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The difficulties in analyzing the “dérive” (=drift) are connected to the surplus of semantic and historical contexts, whose mutual displacement actually provoked the praxis of the dérive itself. This semantic core of displacement can be found in the many connotations of the word “drift” (dérive), which vary according to their usage in geology (the motion of tectonic plates), maritime navigation (a ship’s passive passage along powerful currents or in floes of ice), market analysis (uncontrollable changes in the value of stock), technology (fluctuation of indicators or gauges), physics (motion of stochastic particle distributions), genetics (local mutations), perceptive psychology (micro-movements of the eyes, destabilizing images in order to bridge over gaps in the visual field), demographics (the geographical direction of migration flows). On the whole, drift implies latent, indiscernible, extra-mental displacement , arising in a wave that carries something away, sweeping it up and along, dousing its activity, engulfing it completely, in what seems to be an altogether pleasant way.

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Oxana Timofeeva /// Serious Game

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Most importantly, we were trying to avoid fakeness. Since there was a very real threat of becoming fake, it seems to me that uninterrupted and rather honest self-criticism was the most valuable result of our work. This was the element of seriousness that accompanied our game. I call it a game because there was something childish about it: we prowled the city’s spaces and the quotidian that they belong to. They gave way to us far more than we expected, becoming extremely plastical, as an answer to our secret invocation to be little different. What is ostensibly a territory for work became a field for play. People who were otherwise hardly spoiled by contact with cameras stepped into communication with us very ethusiastically, becoming theatrical, playing for us, demanding attention. It was as if the neighborhood itself had become sensitive to the situation of our “drift”; its inhabitants were drawn into this situation for just a single moment, against the background of a workaday in which any of us would have probably grown numb and unable to respond to any interest from art, history, or anything thing else.

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Alexander Skidan /// Derive Protocol

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03.09.04 Day One

16.10. Meeting at “Kirovsky Zavod” metro-station. First Artem appears, then Tsaplya. Kirill and Gluklya are late. We look for a place to hand out the maps and “instructions”. The “Cobweb” Café: proletarian menu with matching prices. Regulars relax at little tables after a hard day’s work. The radio announces eight ambulances and four dead children in Beslan. Following a brief newsflash, pop-music and the sound of meat being tenderized in the kitchen. We talk about the conception of the dérive. Gluklya asks why Debord killed himself. No-one really knows. Tsaplya hands out colored felt-tip markers, notebooks, and maps.

17.00. Stachek Prospect. Pedestrian underpass. At the entrance, the sign that says “Kirovsky Zavod” (Kirov Works) dovetails with an “Alpha Bank” advert. Tsaplya shows us a portrait of [the famous revolutionary] Gaza , after whom the neighboring House of Culture is named. In the 1970s, it hosted a famous exhibition of Leningrad nonconformists. On the way, I send Polina an SMS: “Where is that side-street, where is that house? Where is that little miss what I once loved?” [=line from a Russian song whose meter cannot be rendered in English]. I am attracted to the song because of its last line’s agrammatism. Oh yes, and because of all the memories of the proletarian revolutionary saga “Maxim’s Youth”, which rhymes with my own youth in a funny sort of way. At some point, we come up to “Kiryanov’s Datcha”, the Civil Registry Office where I legally registered my second marriage in 1988, was it? When I tell the others, Gluklya and Tsaplya decide to give me a present. I ask them to sing “The Blue Ball Turns and Spins” [=another song, with the same melody and meter as the preceding one], and I sing along with them – with a mixture of tenderness and yearning.

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