The Otto Zoo gallery opens its doors with the show Anima Russa (Russian Soul), which presents for the first time in Milan and in Italy the work of the photographers Alexandra Catiere and Elena Zichon, from 29 January to 28 February.
Born at the end of the Soviet empire, passionate about photography, black and white, people and places of their country, Catiere and Zichon are brought together here because in their images inexorably surfaces that poetic, gloomy, intense “Russian soul” that continues to persist in our imagination.
Their experiences and characters, so different, seem to chase after each other at a distance on the plane of a formal research which becomes evolving subject matter. Different atmospheres, personalities and adjectives of a reality still so indecipherable to eyes used only to recognising stereotypes that in the end seem to be true.
Catiere and Zichon are two aspects, two views of this new old empire that bears the stigmata of great tradition on a martyred body in the process of becoming.
Alexandra Catiere (Minsk 1978), lives in Paris and New York but pursues her artistic research in Russia. In Milan she presents a series of portraits from two projects, realised in Minsk and Moscow, Behind the Glass and For What Is Seen Is Temporary (2 Cor. 4:18): the first at a bus stop, taking close-ups of the passengers behind the windows, the second in a nursery home for the elderly. Her film captures the moving sounds of an ancient past of elegance filtered by a present haunted by imploded dreams, whether they be anonymous passengers on a Moscow bus or old people with lined faces full of truths. The passepartout of the rainy windows often becomes a refined storyline, a theatre, a bestiary of the unmistakable somatic features of a people with aristocratic profiles, lost in the betrayals of impoverished consumerism.
Elena Zichon (Moscow 1973) instead presents a collection of photographs taken in St Petersburg and the surrounding countryside. The protagonist is always a cold silence, the silence of things, of palaces, of nature, of marble, of snow-bedecked statues. A world that seems petrified, the impossible vision and self-observation of solitude. Everything is reflected and represented in a muffled, absolute silence, in an elegant cosmic melancholy. Her photographs deal with stillness and are vibrant, in a grand compositional balance that recalls a taste and a respect for interrupted traditions. Soviets and Karenina, crinolines and Nep, “to Moscow, to Mosco