Lyudmila Belova

The walls of the room are covered with texts resembling newspapers. These are special reports of the UNKVD about the state of affairs in Leningrad for each month of 1941-1942. They are combined with photographs and excerpts from the diaries of A. Ostroumova-Lebedeva, A. Boldyrev and many others.
The state of the room makes you think that renovations are underway: a step-ladder, buckets of paint, brushes. On a separate poster are color samples: red, gold, black and white. The ladder is also present in the installation so that the viewer can climb it and read the texts at the top of the walls.

In special reports of the UNKVD the voices of representatives of practically all groups of society were heard – housewives, workers, ordinary engineers, renowned scientists, professors, figures of culture. No other source can probably provide such representativeness as NKVD documents. Special reports from the NKVD bodies were very detailed, they had dozens of examples of statements by people of the most varied professions and situations (with the exception of party and Soviet nomenclature), gained by agency and operative means.



From the book by Nikita Lomagin “The Unknown Blockade”

Excerpts from blockade diaries are especially interesting, for they are the most reliable source of information about the moods, opinions and events of those years. There are also memories of Leningrad residents written after the war. They also aspire to reflect life objectively in the blockaded city, but in many of them allowances must be made for the time, ideology and political situation.

Special reports of the UNKVD are practically the only source in which the life of the blockaded city was regularly recorded. The dry style of the reports, the precise figures and excerpts of direct speech overheard by agents or written down during interrogations give the fullest idea about what was happening in Leningrad, for coverage of the real state of affairs was required to take decisions and organize life in the city.
The Room” is an installation and contemplation. What do we know about the blockade? What do we want to know or not know about the blockade? How can we talk about the blockade, and what can we say?
The allegory of choice is a contemplation about what color to paint the walls of the room. Black paint: to only discuss the horrors of the blockade, cannibalism, robbery and murder. White paint: not to mention different moods and ways people survived, but only to talk about heroism and solidarity, thus making the picture of blockade life one-sided and inauthentic. Red paint: to portray history from the standpoint of communist ideology, putting the achievements of the Communist Party to the fore. Gold paint: to turn the memory of the blockade into a monument of precious stone, which will shine in the sun and become another cult place for the present generation.
From the diary of Anna Petrovna Ostroumova-Lebedeva

24 August 1941

“…We citizens of our country know nothing, nothing. The newspapers report information very meagerly and indirectly… We are so separated from Europe, from the whole world, by such a thick, absolutely impenetrable wall, that not a single sound gets through to us without strict censorship. It’s tough.”

Northwest branch of the State Center of Modern Art

as part of the State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSIZO

with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation

State History Museum of St. Petersbur


Silent Voices” exhibition study project
8 September - 15 November 2017


Peter and Paul Fortress, “Nevskaya Kurtina” exhibition hall (right side)

State History Museum of St. Petersburg

Curator: Lyudmila Belova