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What is life in the commuter town of ​​the post-Soviet space?

To an alien, a lady with a cardboard bag, Lada car.

Saint Peterburg


People used to return from the business center to a residential area to spend the night and go back to work. Therefore, the area is called the sleeping community. Nowadays the infrastructure has grown. Everyday life is concentrated in one place: work, leisure, kindergarten, school. There is no need to go to the center. All you need you can find nearby. There is a tendency for a closed world. Everything outside the district is like a blind spot. Sleeping communities are typical building areas in Russia and for that reason a resident of one has little interest in the life of another.

The buildings of the 2000s are like hives. There are many identical tall buildings in several rows. Developers didn’t care about planting trees and these areas look bare.

All photos were taken at Saint Petersburg, Russia, on January 2020

Living in a sleeping community seemed depressing to me. However, five years ago I moved from the center to one of those communities, the Nevsky district of St. Petersburg and rediscovered it.

I live in a block building from the 80s. The area has already managed to acquire its own cultural layers. Some things have stayed as they were back in the USSR. For example, how old ladies keep order and home improvement. At their own expense, they garden flowers near the entrance, and create sculptures from improvised items. They monitor the morality of young people while sitting on the bench. A new world meddle in the old one. Plastic balconies with satellite TV fit into the original balconies, the walls are covered with graffiti and flashy advertising signs. It may look ridiculous, even absurd.

Working on a project, I discovered such absurd things as a leopard bumper in a car, sweaters hanging on a pole or a frog in a cage. They are both funny and sad. And the heroes that I settled in my area, the corresponding ones are just as bright and strange. But at the same time, they look perfectly organic in the space of absurd things, objects and buildings that surround a resident of a sleeping area. They are as surreal as what we encounter in everyday life.

Combining the real absurdity with the invented, I wanted to talk about the place in which we live.

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Kristina Shkileva

Kristina Shkileva - art photographer from St. Petersburg, student of the Academy of documentary and art photography "Fotografika". In her projects, she works with… More »

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