The water-stone space of the northern Russian capital — such is the St. Petersburg landscape to which the eye is habituated. The tercentenary history of St. Petersburg can be seen from a "landscape" point of view as a fight between natural powers, behind which lie spiritual powers, which are in turn defined in St. Petersburg history as an an assessment of this unprecedented, one-of-a-kind-in-the-world, contradictory city. St. Petersburg has a soul, and it therefore also has a landscape and a portrait. To apply these terms to a city is also metaphoric: the urban environment is a metaphorical “second” nature and a metaphorical city persona. Metaphors are usual, but in the exceptional case of St. Petersburg there is exceptionally unusual within these metaphors.
It is hard to imagine a portrait of St. Petersburg and its apartment houses at the beginning of the 20th century; but taking to the streets with a sketchbook and palette and seeing the pre-revolutionary buildings waiting for renovation, it becomes possible to to see the city in a completely different way. Within the city there is space but no volume: individual façades, streets, greyness. It is hard to imagine the inside or the back of a house. Do people live there? Who? St. Petersburg is inhabited by a literary hero, not a person. St. Petersburg is a text and you are part of it. You are the hero of the poem or novel.