PICTURES   AT   AN   EXHIBITION: SOLOVKI                                      Project Description


SOLOVKI is an archipelago of small islands in the White Sea of Russia, just 50 miles south of the Arctic Circle. 600 years ago it was chosen by a group of monks to establish a monastery and the biggest Orthodox Temple in Russia. For 500 years it was regarded as a Holy Land and visited by innumerous pilgrims from all classes, including peasants, noblemen and royalty. When the Revolution came the sanctuary was destroyed and converted into one of the severest prisons of the GULAG. The prisoners had to dismantle the domes’ crosses and put up stars instead. Over a million people lost their lives under these stars of the first concentration camp of the Soviet Russia. Many of those killed were from the Russian Intelligencia, men of science and culture. Only after the collapse of the Soviet Empire the monastery was re-established and the restoration work began.  The site is now under the protection of UNESCO.


The periods of an acute social awareness in Russia to some extent were influenced by the realistic paintings exhibited by traveling artists.

There were PEREDVIZHNIKI (The wanderers; Russian: Передвижники) - a group of Russian realist artists who formed an artists' cooperative, which evolved into the Society for Traveling Art Exhibitions in 1870.

“They showed the many-sided characters of social life, often with critical tendency. Their art showed not only poverty but also the beauty of folk way of life; not only suffering but also fortitude, strength of characters. In the humanistic art of Peredvizhniki there was resolute condemnation of the Russian autocratic orders; the emancipation movement of Russian people was shown with empathy.” (Wikipedia)

Following this tradition PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION: SOLOVKI will travel in Russia and around the world to tell the story not only in the form of photographic exhibits but as a series of documentaries showing people, places and history behind the pictures.


1.  The traveling exhibition. Places it went through, reaction of the audiences.
- The “Promenade” of the series.
2.   Solovki – how it all started. The island’s location, history and architecture.
3. Crosses. Carving crosses, restoration of the religious architecture.
4. Monks. Their life in the monastery.
5. Prisoner’s coat. Russian Holocaust. Archival footage of the concentration camp.
6. Labyrinths of the archipelago. Research on their unknown origin and nature.
7. Academic Florensky. Former prisoner of Solovki.
8. Nature of the archipelago and life outside of Holy sanctuary.
9. People from the exhibitions’ audiences. Their stories evoked by photographs.
10.  The author of the pictures. His story.
11. Solovki’s Biblical highlights: Golgotha.
12. Academic Likhachev. Former prisoner of Solovki.
13. 6-mile dam built by monks and volunteers.
14.  UNESCO protecting the site.