New East Digital Archive

Rock all night: excavating the origins of St Petersburg

A perspective of St Petersburg by Russian photographers Egor Rogalev and Alexey Bogolepov, based on the rock the city was made from

The series White Nights by Russian photographers Egor Rogalev and Alexey Bogolepov is a visual exploration of St Petersburg beyond the usual postcard views. “St Petersburg has become recognised by a cluster of recycled labels — ‘regal’, ‘official’, ‘imperial’. Even ‘white nights’, a strictly latitudinal phenomenon, has turned into a dusty cultural construct, a backdrop for tourist strolls along bridges and embankments,” explain the photographers. In search of a different approach to understanding urban space, they headed out of the city to where the materials used to build it were once mined, and captured these places during the white nights, the beautiful light of northern summer. “The refusal of outdated language brought us to the most basic layer: the city as a collection of natural materials, transported from nearby deposits into the Neva delta and assembled there in a certain order. We followed these routes to their sources — quarries, pits, mines,” write Rogalev and Bogolepov in the statement to the series. “This project shows the city as fractures and cavities, resulting from the extraction of rocks and minerals used for building it. Marble tiers, granite stages and clay strata containing sand lenses all make up the crust of the city, left behind after flesh was scraped out of it.”

White Nights will be exhibited at ZIL cultural centre in Moscow from 26 June to 30 August 2015.