New East Digital Archive

Artist accused of destroying Russia’s cultural heritage over controversial shoot

4 December 2017

A new series of contemporary photographs highlighting the plight of Russia’s rural heartlands has seen one of Moscow’s top contemporary artists accused of destroying the country’s national heritage.

Danila Tkachenko set derelict homes in the Russian countryside ablaze as part of his latest project, Motherland.

The 28-year-old hoped that the shots, taken as the buildings burned under the cover of darkness, would ignite debate Russia’s dwindling rural population.

Some conservation activists instead condemned the work, appealing to the Russian Ministry of Culture to bring charges against the artist.

The head of the Krokhino preservation fund said that the artist’s work set “a dangerous precedent”.

“A man has damaged our cultural heritage under the guise of art,” Anor Tukaeva told Russia’s “We can’t bring a charge against him, but we must find out if that’s a possibility.”

Defending his work in an interview with Russian news site, Tkachenko said: “The houses that I chose [to burn] were rotten, with caved-in roofs. I’ve not done anything bad to anyone else.”

“We live in a different kind of world now: we have the internet, and the experience of previous generations isn’t needed. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s just a transition from one state to another.”