Svetlana Volodina

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Location: Magleby​​​​​, Denmark
Nationality: Russian
Biography: I've got three stones of imagination: light, human soul, nature.  Sometimes I fling them so far away that in the way my whole  essence reveals and I do not know - is it my way to the stone or my way to myself.   Born on a rainy... read on
Public Story
The Castle


 Prehistory of project. 

The next day after shooting began in July 2009, I was attacked by robbers and they stole my camera. All subsequent shoot I used a camera Canon EOS 400D Digital borrowed from my dear friend and colleague Yuri Kuznetsov.

It should say that Yuri had passed and was safely out of the system of public institutions of closed type, such as children orphanage houses, psycho - neurological asylums (nursing home), psychiatric clinics.

Yuri was born with cerebral palsy and, according to doctors, had no future. On the basis of this fact, his mother abandoned him.

When he was three years old, he was placed to Orphanage house for children with intellectual disabilities  №4 Pavlovsk, Saint-Petersburg.

Further, when Yuri was 18 years old he was transferred to Psycho - neurological asylum (nursing home) №1, department 14 (in this place I made my project in the period July-August 2009). During his stay at the asylum, he was placed for some time in a psychiatric clinic.

In the end, after going through all kinds of system institutions for people with physical and psychological characteristics, Yuri currently lives in his apartment in St. Petersburg, and is preparing to celebrate his 50th anniversary.

On the initiative of the Yuri this project was made. As a symbol of the memories of what happened and the memory of the place, which has existed for several centuries.

After the pictures were taken, external hard drives, on which I were transferred photos, was broke down  and only  in 2013 I was able to recover all the information on the external hard drives.

I recommend reading the description for each photo, and also understand that any photographer would not be allowed to work on territory of the existing asylum and be a witness of how the machine of systemic institutions works. That is why the nature and content of the pictures is a unique chance for us to see the "naked body" of system of closed institutions.

When working on a project, I used the material resources Google Maps and Wikimapia, excerpts from book Ruben David Gonzalez Gallego White on black, a film by Werner Herzog Land des Schweigens und der Dunkelheit, as well as my own memories, dreams, knowledge and experience in the places of closed type .

These images have never been published and maybe they will allow not only look into the system of closed institutions in Russia, but also a deeper understanding of the human heart and take a fresh look at those who are a little different from the general mass of people, and possibly more aware that our personal attitude prevents the removal of the barriers between "healthy" and "sick."

I dedicate this project to Yuri Kuznetsov and all those who are closed in public institutions.

Name of the Story: “The Castle”.

Location: Psycho-neurological asylum (nursing home) №1 Smolny, 4, St. Petersburg, Russia.


In rich countries, insulation richer, in poor countries - is much tougher and more inhuman, but the essence of the insulation does not change. Whatever you call the reservation, it will remain reservation. The first step - insulation. Physical and spiritual Insulation. The second step - the destruction. The worst thing, the most inhuman that possible to create with the living creature - to isolate it from the outside world. From Insulation to the destruction of more than one step, the Insulation and destruction go hand in hand, side by side.

Rubén David González Gallego.

According to data from different sources in Russia about 276 psycho - neurological asylums (nursing homes), in which live about 300 000 people. The system is based on the principle of isolation (lockdown) that leads to the violation of human rights and closes the opportunity to living a full and conscious life in society on an equal basis with other people. In St. Petersburg, in the central part of the city was the largest psycho-neurological asylum (nursing home) in Russia, with a population of about 1400 people, 500 of them were in serious condition and were constantly in bed.

The fate of the building, which is home and eternal prison for many inhabitants, is closely intertwined with the fate of the people.

This building, as if embodying the Castle Kafka kept in silence and impregnability fears, desires, hatred, anger, joy, love, hope and greatness of the human soul, was founded in 1782-1784 by the decree of Catherine II.

From 2002 to 2004 there was taken a decision to carry inhabitants in Psycho-neurological asylum (nursing home) outside the city in Zelenogorsk, st. Mira, 4 and on  the place of historical and human monument will be implemented the project «Smolny Kvartal», which will become a commercial property.

In July 2009, began mass displacement of one thousand inhabitants in Zelenogorsk, st. Mira, 4, other four hundred people were settled in the new building of  Psycho - neurological asylum ( nursing home) №9 in Krasnoe Selo.

In 2011, the Administration building of St. Petersburg Gradskij almshouses which belonged to Psycho-neurological asylum (nursing home) №1 and was built  in the XIX century, was demolished. At the site of the demolished buildings and park started construction of a new building of the Arbitration Court, which will be completed by 2016.

In 2012, the first stage of the project «Smolny Kvartal» is put in operation.

The term of commissioning of the whole object «Smolny Kvartal» - 2016.

The images included in the submission were made:

-  July - August 2009, Psycho-neurological asylum (nursing home) №1 St. Smolny, 4,Petersburg, Russia.

- March 2014, photos made from Google maps, Wikimapia.  Magleby, Denmark.