In May – June 2011 Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences organized an exhibition within the framework of activities of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”, together with the Russian embassy in Slovenia and Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation Federal Agency (commonly known as Rossotrudnichestvo). The exhibition was called “In the Mirror of Time. Peoples of Russia Through the Eyes of Photographers at the Turn of the 19th –20th Centuries (from the Collections of St. Petersburg Kunstkamera)”. It was displayed at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Ljubljana as well as the international economic conference “Russia and the European Union” in Bled (Slovenia) (see p. 60 and backs of both covers). The museum that houses a colossal collection of archived photographs has gradually begun to implement a special project devoted to its study.
It is well known that photography is largely a “message without a code”; it is dependent on the text accompanying it. We have looked at the museum photographic collection as a family album of sorts. The centre of the group photographs in such an album is usually given to the elderly and children. This is exactly what we attempted to accomplish as well. The main function of a family album is to gather “social assets” of a family and present those to the outside world. We also tried to bring to the attention of the guests of the exhibition our understanding of the principles at the foundation of the Russian civilization. The exhibition presented to you is the follow-up to the project, displayed in Slovenia. But if in the first case the exhibition was built as a dialogue of synchronous photographs, today we present to you an “interactive” dialogue in time, in which even an observer may participate. One side of this dialogue is represented by the photographs of Tatiana Fedorova, a member of many ethnographic expeditions of the St. Petersburg Kunstkamera as well as the series of historical and ethnographical expeditions called “The Slavic Course”.
The project is a story of the principal wealth of the Russian world — its people. It is about the unique Russian civilization, the main peculiarity of which is the care of national cultures, resulting in the unique ability to live together while remaining diverse.
Project was realized for the panel “Civilization space of inter-cultural dialogue” of the IX Annual Session World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” (Rhodes, Greece, October 6–10, 2011)