Alfredo Chiarappa – Crossing Leningrad

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Alfredo Chiarappa

Crossing Leningrad

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Leningrad, Russia
January 2011

“Stavrogin: … in the Apocalypse the angel swears that there’ll be no more time.

Kirillov: I know. It’s quite true, it’s said very clearly and exactly. When the whole of man has achieved happiness, there won’t be any time, because it won’t be needed. It’s perfectly true.

Stavrogin: Where will they put it then?

Kirillov: They won’t put it anywhere. Time isn’t a thing, it’s an idea. It’ll die out in the mind.”

– The possessed, Fyodor Dostoevsky.

During the winter in Leningrad the night falls in love with time that seems never want to end. And the white mist all around suggests all lovers never to leave each other, and keeps company to the city youth.

After the end of the Communist dictatorship the young russian cultures strongly felt the influences of their contemporary american and european neighbours, so much that 20 years later even the myth of being a city of sex tourism has been lost.
Today in the city of the Great Peter you can breathe european air, and it can be compared to generation dream cities like Berlin and London.

Crossing Leningrad is about post-perestroika youth who wants to go beyond the time they couldn’t see certain films, couldn’t listen western music, radio stations and even wearing jeans.



Alfredo Chiarappa was born in 1982 in Melfi, a little town in southern Italy, and currently lives in Milan. He holds degrees in communication design from Politecnico in Milan and studied documentary photography at Rome School of Photography. His work is focuses on street culture and young people everyday life. Currently, he is a freelance photographer and he works on his personal projects. He also teaches Digital Media at Politecnico in Milan.


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8 Responses to “Alfredo Chiarappa – Crossing Leningrad”

  • Alfredo
    Congratulations for being published here.

    I love your straight up portraits, 1, 9, and 11 in this series, like many others in your site, centered, subject confronting the camera head on. I especially like 11.

    When I first saw this up at lunchtime, I’m afraid I was not especially taken by it. I thought I would wait, have a second look, and see what others reactions were to perhaps gain some insights. I see that no-one else has commented. Perhaps others too are not sure what to think.

    As of now, I have to admit that I am still not terribly taken by this. Night-life and partying hedonistic young people in Leningrad seem to look pretty similar to their counterparts elswhere, albeit with a Russian twist. I have noted your use of a slightly grim overall colour balance, washed out highlights, slight de-saturation, combined with grim or vacant expressions. Wether deliberate or not, these all lend an air of pathos and sleaze. No-one seems to be having very much fun.

    Personally, I would love to see just a whole series of your straight up portraits. In the end, they reveal much more than any of the other photographs.

    I’m curious what others think.


  • I really like #7, even taken out of context. I like 1, 6, and 9 too, but without context they are a hearty trio of photographs bravely sailing the seas of portraiture.

    For me this needs some kind of framework to exist within. Before reading the artist statement I was just seeing night life pictures. Good night life pictures, but night life pictures none the less. After reading the statement I think I have more of a supporting structure but seeing as this leans more towards documentary than “choose your own adventure” style interpretation I’d really like to SEE that structure rather than read and infer it. As a westerner and total outsider I don’t have a lot of preconceived notions about Russian society. Perhaps an older generation of westerner has stronger preconceptions about Russian character and what is Russian which would provide the framework that I think this is intended to be viewed in. Tell me with pictures!

    In my view the extended edit on the artist’s website establishes more of a sense of place though still leaves me feeling without a foundation. I want to see what is new alongside, coexisting with and in conflict with what is old as well as what is contemporary but less boldly western. I want to see youth culture outside of the environment that has arisen to support it.

    I am an ignorant child and if you do not show me then I do not know!

  • Weak in content and execution, I am surprised it is considered to be an essay. It struggles to make work in progress grade.

  • Hi Alfredo,
    Thanks for sharing these with us.

    I think I agree with Jmalbers – I felt there were definitely some strong individual images here. For me numbers 9 and 15 stood out. Technically they’re great photos of people.

    Having said that, I would also agree that I was looking for a stronger framework within which to locate these characters. Maybe consider either blitzing the still-life type shots, to fill it out, or on the other hand you could narrow it right down to a partrait series?

    Either way, keep it up mate. This is a location we don’t often get access to.


  • (PORTRAIT series, I meant)

  • A few stunning portraits here: 1,3 and 18, and to see the young lovers at what I assume marks the place where Napoleon died, as his mausoleum is in Paris, is thought provoking.

    The fact that you have made a document like this where you have made also makes one think – I agree that in a western country, many of these pictures would seem fairly common – but Leningrad?

  • I quite like this work.. not a finished essay, but a nice start.. thanks!

  • I’m not the biggest fan of wide angled, centered portaits but i think this is a typical case of how a wise subject selection wipes out any esthetic remark one may have.

    And it can only get better as images keep coming in! ;)


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