May 15, 2019
Ekaterina is a Russian photographer who explores through her work the concepts of space and territory by thoroughly studying and portraying a specific place. In her series "Road to Petergof", Ekaterina researches the road from Saint Petersburg to Petergof, a stretch established by Peter the Great in 1710 to connect the newly built capital with his suburban residencies. In these images we can see the changes in the land that have happened through history, and how the interaction between people and territory is in constant evolution.
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
EV - Thank you for your interest in my work. My name is Ekaterina Vasilyeva. I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and now I live partly in Russia and partly in Eastern Europe. Currently I cooperate with the German agency ''Plainpicture'' and work
on a few personal projects. During the past two years I also worked as a lecturer at the photo school ''Fotografika'' (St.Petersburg) and as a guest lecturer at several
other photo schools in St. Petersburg.
am - How did you start in photography?
EV - It happened quite late when I was 32 years old. By profession I am a librarian and worked during three years in the library of St. Petersburg Medical University. Then there were eight years of work in the tourist industry, which helped me see a lot of countries and communicate with many people. A serious interest in photography arose in 2009 after two years of living in the United States in Birmingham, Alabama. With time, simple amateur pictures of nature became unsatisfying to me. I often remember one random picture I did at the beach on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida in 2006: A couple walking along the beach among a lot of birds and the man suddenly raised his arms up and waved them like wings. At that
time I also realized that I wanted to change something in my life. Maybe even my profession. This time also changed my way of living essentially. I had more time to be alone. Living in a foreign country, being quite closed, helped me to find, I can confidently say now, my purpose in life. At least I pretty much hope for that.
I decided that after returning to Saint Petersburg, I was going to study photography seriously. It happened indeed. During the past nine years, I’ve studied consequently reportage, documentary, and contemporary photography.
am - What is “Road to Petergof” about?
EV - In most of my projects, I explore a particular place (space, territory), their changes in the context of time and historical landmarks, environment problems, interaction with human activity, personal relationships and the myths of the place.
Here I focus my attention on a very particular piece of land: the territory of the road from Saint Petersburg to Petergof, a tract established by Peter the Great in 1710 to connect the newly built capital to a few monarch’s suburban residencies, which resulted in a huge architectural ensemble that, according to Peter's ideas, had to
overshadow the road from Paris to Versailles.
At that time this was a new look at the relationship between Man and Nature. Nowadays, once integrated, the landscape-urban metropolitan area system has collapsed; the onslaught of the city brings harm to the aesthetics of the landscape. The most valuable Manor ensembles, which were in the past a symbol of harmonious coexistence between Man and Nature, have disappeared.
am - What were you most interested in capturing with these images?
EV - I wanted to see my native city nature through the example of a small, but important area, and through the eyes of a citizen of the 21-st century. I wanted to look at the changes that have happened to it during the time I have lived here, and finally to understand for myself whether I agree with these changes or not.
Within the series I tried to take a phenomenological approach, which would observe the space as it is, in its very particularity way, paying attention to its quaint juxtapositions and acknowledging the actual forms of life lurking among the ruins of the Romantic imagination.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
EV - I like so much the projects of Katrin Koenning, Alec Soth, Sophie Calle, Chris Killip and pictures of artists such as Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper.
am - What’s your favourite movie?
EV - ''Assa'' by the Russian film director Sergei Solovyov, "Picnic at Hanging Rock'' by Peter Weir and ''Midnight in Paris'' by Woody Allen.
am - What is your favourite photo book?
EV - ''Tranquility'' by Heikki Kaski, ''LE SILENCE" by Cristiano Raimondi (ed.) & Simone Menegoi (ed.) and ''In Flagrante'' (first published in 1988) by Chris Killip.
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
EV - Thank you !
All images © Ekaterina Vasilyeva