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HSE University School of Art and Design in St. Petersburg and ‘Manege’ Open a Joint Exhibition

HSE University School of Art and Design in St. Petersburg and ‘Manege’ Open a Joint Exhibition

© Press Service of the Manege Central Exhibition Hall in St. Petersburg

On August 14, the ‘Thirty Three Characters’ project, which was created by the HSE University School of Art and Design in St. Petersburg in partnerships with the ARKI Creative Workshop, will open at the Manege Central Exhibition Hall in St. Petersburg. The project combines a series of outdoor installations dedicated to the Cyrillic alphabet.

The exhibition reveals the relationship between traditional Russian culture, contemporary art, modern font design, and typography with the unique urban space of St. Petersburg. A large team of experts from HSE School of Art and Design in St. Petersburg worked on the exhibition. The project is led by the Division Head Dmitry Kharshak, while Andrey Punin worked as main designer. The following lecturers of the School of Art and Design are among the project’s authors: Andrey Lublinsky, Vitaly Pushnitsky, Boremir Bakharev and Yuri Shtapakov, as well as Ekaterina Filipenko and Andrey Voronov, who will join the School's team in September 2020. Anastasia Petyakhina, third-year student of the Design programme, also developed of the project's identity design.

The new exhibition builds on ‘Thirty Three Sounds’ project, which was held at Manege in September 2019. The success of last year's exhibition encouraged the creators to continue with the ‘magic’ number 33 in a new form and tell audiences about the basic element of Russian culture—Cyrillic script.

‘Thirty Three Sounds’ 2019
© Press Service of the Manege Central Exhibition Hall in St. Petersburg

‘The ‘Thirty Three Characters’ exhibition is our declaration of love to the Cyrillic alphabet. I love it for the uniqueness of our vertical ‘fence’ of П, Ц, Ш, Щ, for ‘buzzing beetle’ Ж, for ‘hands-in-hips-walking’ Ф, for unpronounceable Ь and Ъ, for Ы unknowable for a foreign eye, and for the closing bold triple Э, Ю, Я!’ says Dmitry Kharshak, Project Curator and Head of the Division of Design and Contemporary Art.

The exhibition ‘Thirty Three Characters’ includes several parts. The installation ‘Cyrillic Labyrinth’, created by designer Yuri Gordon and Andrey Punin, Architect and Lecturer at the HSE University School of Art and Design in St. Petersburg, will be as the exhibition centre. The lowercase ‘A’ shaped labyrinth will be placed on the square near the Western facade of the Manege Central Exhibition Centre. Walking through it and interacting with elements of augmented reality, viewers will be able to trace the development of the Cyrillic font and learn about the milestones in the alphabet’s formation.

In addition, a series of large-scale installations АБВГД — Авторские Буквы В ГороДе (ABVGD-Author's Letters in the City) will be located in the centre of St. Petersburg: on the University embankment, in the Peter and Paul Fortress, Sevkabel port and other locations. Contemporary Russian artists and font designers, including Pokras Lampas, Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai and Andrey Lublinsky, have created 15 installations using the form of Cyrillic letters. There are the letters that have already fallen out of use in modern Russian. Specially for this project, artist and calligrapher Viktor Pushkarev will create a series of typographic videos dedicated to each letter of the Russian alphabet. A documentary about the project, directed by Konstantin Furasyev, will also be presented in September.

© Press Service of the Manege Central Exhibition Hall in St. Petersburg

As part of the project, the Manege Exhibition Centre will present an additional educational programme with creative meetings and lectures by participants and other design experts. The programme will be launched in September. The project’s team is also working on creating a mobile app, which will feature a combination of gaming and educational elements revealing the unfamiliar aspects of Cyrillic script. Furthermore, the virtual platform will show the history of the Cyrillic alphabet and most significant events that have influenced our writing system.

Dmitry Kharshak

Dmitry Kharshak

The Thirty-Three Characters project combines several areas. First, there is certainly visual art. ‘Fifteen outstanding artists are creating letters/installations, which will be placed on the streets of St. Petersburg. Secondly, it is the font design. Through lectures and master classes of modern designers, we will talk about the modern Cyrillic alphabet and, perhaps, try to look into its future. And thirdly, this is a research project. Artist and designer Yuri Gordon creates a large-scale installation ‘Cyrillic Labyrinth’, which will be located on the square near the Western facade of the Manege Central Exhibition Centre. The labyrinth will enable the exhibition guests to travel through 12 centuries of Russia’s history of writing.’

The exhibition is being implemented as part of the ‘Museum line’ programme, conceived by the Manege team for the purpose of creating open cultural spaces and developing a more comfortable urban environment.

‘The Museum Line’ project is aimed at strengthening the image of St. Petersburg as a dynamically developing cultural capital of Europe, open to modern art, new figurative forms and artistic solutions,’ says Anna Yalova, Project Head, Manege Deputy Director for Development, adding: ‘The project is particularly relevant this year. The consequences of the current pandemic impose certain restrictions on visiting museums and exhibitions, so supporting art in an open space art be an important solution in the development of the urban cultural environment.’

The exhibition will be open in St. Petersburg until October 14. After that, it will be exhibited in other Russian cities, primarily in Moscow.

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