Streets Of Hope
an ongoing project in co-operation with Center for Independent Social Research, St. Petersburg (CISR) and Goethe Institute St. Petersburg
The project deals with the dynamic changes of the urban environment of St. Petersburg and brings to the table the bottom up perspective to them. The focus of the project are urban changes seen directly from inside of the city’s tissue – through the eyes of taxi drivers. They are experts in the perception of changes and disruptions as well as in watching daily routine in the long run.
The aim of the project is to address the taxi drivers’ expertise of the ongoing urban changes; to see the past, present and future of St.-Petersburg through the lenses of their daily experience of this city; to objectify their vision to the city and their ways of perception of it, their discourse – and to share it with wider public.
Drivers were asked for both, about their visions and their practical proposals of changes. The former was fixed in their narratives, in their choice of the areas to visit and in their routes. The latter - in their suggestions of the new names of the streets – the names that would reflect the daily experience of these spaces lived by the taxi drivers and their passengers. These names mirror the everyday perception of the particular city spaces.
We consider the taxi drivers to be experts of the city life and space – as city planners, politicians and investors are, and we wish to let them add their perspective that comes “directly from the road” to this expert discourse of the city; we wish therefore to give a voice to the group of unrecognised “experts” in urban changes.
The project is based therefore on the empirical scientific an artistic research. The idea is that the second step of the project is the transformation of the cognition gained into the public space of St. Petersburg should follow up. The newly gained cognition should be publicly discussed and completed through a public participation.
A result of the project is a map of St.-Petersburg and the renamed streets and squares made up by the taxi drivers - based upon their feelings and knowledge of the real daily activities of these spaces and the associations to these spaces/places the drivers or their passengers have, etc. - will be marked on the map. At the same time, marker pens will be provided to the passers-by to add further comments and supplements.
The project will be presented at a suitable public place in St. Petersburg. The place shall suit to present the video installation as well as a large table which has the shape of the map of St. Petersburg.
Results of the artistic field studies are subsequently provided to the further scientific work of CSIR. After the project period the installation can be temporarily placed and exhibited at a suitable different place in St. Petersburg. The aim of the project is to create imaginative space where social utopia and reality correlate and concentrate.
Partner organizations and participants
Centre for independent social research (CISR)
Oleg Pachenkov, (CISR)
Lilia Voronkova, (CISR/free lance)
Goethe Institute St. Petersburg