There is ongoing debate around the St. Isaac’s Cathedral in Saint-Petersburg of the Russian Orthodox Church. RBC talked with the General Director of the Hermitage on why the decision to transfer was hasty, the censorship, the exhibition of Jan Fabre and the difference between Moscow and St. Petersburg
Interview with Mikhail Piotrovsky
On 10 January it became known that the authorities of St. Petersburg decided to transfer to St. Isaac’s Cathedral Russian Orthodox Church. This idea has many critics. And as far as I know, you among them. Is that so?
— So this annoys me a primitive approach to everything, including this question.
— Well, journalism requires some simple generalizations, so it sounds that way.
— Actually it is not. It is necessary to stop a simple generalization.
— Then explain.
— St. Isaac’s Cathedral: we try to do everything precisely, accurately articulate all the words. I almost never give a verbal interview, because I write everything. And would like what I write, it was exactly written. As soon as it was announced the decision of the Governor, which was not preceded by any discussions and negotiations with the Museum community, and I represent the Museum community, we published a document of the Museum community of St. Petersburg. Was the first question that we are concerned about the destruction of the Museum. If someone is worried about the temple, we care about the Museum. The destruction of the Museum. For us this decision is the destruction of the Museum. And from this point of view we look at it. Despite the fact that it was in St. Isaac’s Cathedral has made remarkable compromise the Museum and the Church can work. This does not mean to oppose. It means to Express bewilderment that sense of disbelief and feelings of the Museum so offended that they were not consulted and have not begun negotiations with them. The next stage, right? I am the President of the Union of museums of Russia, right? I am the Director of the Hermitage. I can’t help but react to decisions that did not agree with us. The next stage is the Union of museums of Russia. We can’t write the next protests; it is pointless to write protests against the laws, despite the fact that decisions and opinions. So, it was a letter to the Patriarch. I wrote about what I propose to temporarily stop this transfer of the Church to sit down and discuss the issues that we need to discuss, because the interests of the Museum community not taken into account. Despite the fact that not only Isaac Museum. Our entire city is a Museum. We live the history of our culture no less than the history of the Church. So I offered to pause. And it was given quite a positive response.
— What’s the answer?
— It was announced. He said he was ready to meet with me, he knows me well. We never once met.
The rally on the Champ de Mars in defense of St. Isaac’s Cathedral
Saturday, January 28, at the Champ de Mars in St. Petersburg held a rally against the St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox Church. According to police, the event was about 2 thousand people.
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— And you can still very simple, literally on the fingers, to explain, to make it clear not only to the professional community. What is actually wrong is that in the form in which now it is said, St. Isaac’s Cathedral will pass in the ROC? St. Isaac’s Cathedral Museum and the dash will move to the ROC. What you in this hurt?
There’s no need to pass all Isaac’s Cathedral-Museum of the ROC. There is a Museum there which works well. And this Museum is the appendage that makes Isaac’s Cathedral as well as the Kazan Cathedral and the Peter and Paul Cathedral, something more than just Orthodox cathedrals. All these councils were controlled by the state in the Synodal period, not only because there was no money, and because they are all special. St. Isaac’s Cathedral — is the Cathedral that glorifies Peter’s. The birthday of Peter. In the Peter and Paul Cathedral, go to the emperors more than just pray to God. They have a special value. And this is of particular importance is complemented by the Museum’s function.
— And you agree that the boundary between the secular state and clerical in Russia is gradually erased and the Church gets more and more into what it should not touch?
The Church has always claimed a very important role in the minds of people that do not always lead to good results. Including the state of people. To people in General. Everywhere. Just then there is a backlash. We must remember what happened after the revolution: how the Russian people expressed their love for the Church.
— Mikhail Borisovich, how painful or, by the way, ironic you feel about the scandals that no-no and breaks out in your city? Scandals are not about culture. For example, in St. Petersburg, suddenly had a bridge named after Kadyrov, many were surprised. And here Kadyrov? And here the Petersburg? Or, it seems, the cursed stadium Kristovskiy, which for many Russians became a model example of corruption and sloppiness. Well as you can to build it? How much can you pour into it money? Here you personally — Petersburger — these stories are annoying? Amuse? Or you don’t pay attention, preferring to live in parallel?
— Focus on scandals is again a sign of provincialism. Is what shapes the agenda anyway. The agenda must be formed differently. Bridge Kadyrov, Kadyrov is not a bridge. What’s the difference? Hysteria is not necessary. As for the stadium, well, stole — not stole — that is to say, business as usual. It’s all ridiculous to consider, especially as the story is dark, but that is the fault of the public and even mine too. We are too few to protect the existing old stadium of St. Nicholas. It was a masterpiece of architecture. It was done brilliantly. We defended, it is defended, but no — all architects — not saying that you need to keep the stadium and somehow to use it. And that’s got the curse of the place. Because we are so disrespected by the previous architect. Whatever happens, we’ll see.
— Another problem, but not the scandal of Federal significance. In October of last year Konstantin Raikin gave a speech from which we learned that the government is trying to return and impose censorship in the field of culture and art in Russia. You feel something like that?
— It’s always a possibility. And in fact we should appreciate and thank God for what we have for many years, there is no censorship. We have forgotten that such censorship. Well, not only God, but also specific people. Yes. We will come the moment to the point that we will have censorship. It is being born now from public initiatives. There are constant public initiatives. People believe that if they don’t like, then it shouldn’t be. And already there are conversations on how to make previews as it once was. This is a very dangerous trend, which will always be performers. It has not yet been incarnated but already close to realization. And, by the way, on the same show Fabra. Sociological surveys show that all those who wrote letters, the exhibition was not. This is a typical technique of formation of public opinion through the Internet, through letters to the Prosecutor. This technique is still us severely backfire.
— And what, by the way, well, something, taught history with the exhibition of Fabre? Even now I’m not talking about the exhibition itself, but about the reaction.
— Has taught that the need to educate people. It seemed to us that the background is higher than it was before. But it turned out that he fell. Because Fabre is a very simple exhibition. Nothing special.
— You also attacked many. Since animal advocates ending all the same Orthodox Church. Facebook raged: “Piotrovsky is crazy! He puts the dead rabbits”.
— He seethed in order to create public opinion. This is another exercise to manipulate public opinion, which is now very often exists. Should talk about is not art, and those who are involved in the security of the state.
— The attack on the exhibition of Jock Sturges, the emergence of organizations like the “Officers of Russia”, “God’s will”, Cossacks and bikers who roam the exhibitions and theaters to offend your feelings — it all seems a real danger? Or is it circus and immediacy?
Is of course the danger. This is the danger of increased social activity. This is a risk that… it is a result of what is called democracy, every small fragment of society considers the right to impose their views. This, of course, danger. This danger should stop state. While it suppresses. We need to do to stop is always to the opinions of people directed to the correct channels. Will correct the opinion to reflect? Everything will be fine.
— You flew to the noise that’s happening right now around the new film by Alexei Uchitel “Matilda”?
— What do you think about this? Is it dangerous? Or is it a circus?
— Here the Deputy Poklonskaya all the time pulls instance, to checked. I think this is the most dangerous. It is very easy reviving mechanism. If all other things: but what? Why? There is freedom of creativity and all that. Here all remember the subcortex is a simple mechanism to allow or not to allow viewings. Artistic Here… just ask the arts Council. And this is the greatest danger to this story. God forbid will return to the arts Council and someone will decide what is and what is not.
— You live and work in St. Petersburg. You love and protect this city in every way. What do you think about Moscow?
— Moscow is a city that can swallow anything. In Moscow it is possible to build an ugly building or to demolish the building and nothing much happens. Moscow is a big city where everything is different, everything is eclectic. In St. Petersburg you will demolish two or three buildings, and St. Petersburg. It’s all over. Moscow itself digest everything. But Petersburg itself does not digest. Without it people cannot live. Moscow without Muscovites. Petersburg without Petersburgers will not live.
The full interview