Zakhar Kolovsky

kolovskyBorn 1956. Graduated from the department of theory and art history at the Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (2000). Director of St. Petersburg’s A-Ya Society (since 1986). Heads the National Center of Photography in St. Petersburg (ROSFOTO, since 2002). He considers his most important series to be “Windows” (2001-02), “Electorate” (2002-03), “Lines” (2003­07), “Naval Architecture” (2005-07).

The “Emergency Ascent” project initially sprang from an impression of one of St. Petersburg’s Or­thodox churches (the Church of the Icon of Mater Amabilis on Vassilievsky Island), where a training station for submariners was installed in the 1930s. All that was left of the church interior were frag­ments of marble facing and flaked plaster. Gadgets for performing experiments and exercising were installed in side-altars. There was even space for a swimming pool. Dominating this complex was the deep-water and emergency ascent simulator rising up to the dome and ringed by spiral stairs. There are dry instructions on the walls instead of icons. The deep-water simulator is strangely remi­niscent of a chandelier – a central church chandelier traditionally has a rod with a ring around it. Here the form is the same, with a corresponding scale, and a directly opposite meaning. The symbol of the heavenly world is replaced by a volume imitating underwater space. Any postmodernist would sign up for such a project. But there is no place for any irony here – every­thing is for real. We face a unique example of how basic archetypes initially belonging to a sacred space can transfer to foreign objects. The unintentional overlaying of meanings seems to have spir­itualized this training station and turned it into a peculiar monument to the submarine force, its vic­tories and tragedies.

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