After graduating from university in my home town, I moved to St. Petersburg. Like many new arrivals, I needed to rent a place stay. Since I usually rented rooms in shared apartments, the fate of staying in a communal apartment did not pass me by. So one day I found myself in a huge 33-room communal apartment in the city center.
From the moment I moved in, that apartment had been raising a whole range of emotions in me: from disgust to admiration. The less I felt comfortable there, the more I wanted to take pictures of the communal life, as if photography made the communal world clearer to me. The most paradoxical to me was the fact that complete strangers are forced to cohabitate in the communal apartments, which generates a lot of amusing phenomena. For example, the demarcation of spaces into communal and private ones that causes common spaces to look impersonal and orphaned and private spaces, as a rule, are filled with comfort and convey the characters of the tenants very well. While photographing, I studied the peculiarities of communal life, I tried to understand how people share a space and where common areas end where private ones begin, how and where comfort and privacy is possible in a communal apartment.
In the process of this photographic study, I came to conclusion that interiors and everyday objects that belong to the tenants can be quite eloquent. I found that things can tell you even more than the people themselves. Like silent witnesses, they are able to tell stories about former and current tenants, about what is today and what was twenty years ago. Each shot from my series is a way of telling about people, time and space. I wanted to create a kind of spatio-temporal cast of that atmosphere. At least, I would like to think I did.
The experience of living in one of the 33 rooms was my first and only experience of staying in a communal apartment. I moved out five years ago, and for all these five years I have been photographing the interiors of communal apartments, listening to the stories the walls have to tell.