«Taleon» /Aleksander Kitaev/

The typical St. Petersburg photographer is a black-and-white ascetic with a certain sensitivity. A judge of an austere style of architecture, poetry, rundown walls and palaces with well-groomed courtyards, he produces ste-reotyped views and a glossy mythology. The result is an infinitely repeating tautology defined by the banal equa-tion: St. Petersburg photographer = photographer of St. Petersburg. Despite a biography that is typical of St. Peters-burg photographers of the 1970s (a class for beginners at the Vyborgsky House of Culture, a press-photographer certificate from the House of Journalists, and work as a technical photographer in shipyards - while he keeping his own personal work in the drawer), Alexander Kitaev is one of the city's few masters with his own particular style.

A dedicated retro man, whose photos of the city are not individual, if well-done works, Kitaev prefers to procude series of photographs that develop a particular theme: be it St. Petersburg's 'yellow-colored image' or deformed city views, corner buildings ripping into squares and intersections, or a pre-tercentenary downtown enclosed in scaffolding and polyethylene. Indeed, the city, which is preserved in its 19th-century style, suggests a retrospective approach. But even in his studio work, Kitaev opts for an old-fashioned manner. He doesn't need artificial lighting — the garret windows, long exposure times and the famous wall that has been the background for anything that could be photo-graphed in the studio - prima ballerinas of the Mariinsky, portraits of actors' and local bohemians and nudes, - are enough. Just as it was in the studio of an old, prerevolutionary photographer, the model has to sit still for an extend-ed time. In the same manner, St. Petersburg sits in recollection of itself for Kitaev.

By Anna Tolstova