Svetlana Volodina

The Castle
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
Credits: svetlana volodina
Date of Work: 05/08/08 - 11/15/19
Updated: 11/30/19
Location: Saint-Petersburg


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

This is more or less a personal account.

Preface of the 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 the system of public institutions of closed type, such as orphanages, psycho - neurological asylums (nursing home), psychiatric clinics and finally was safely out of it. 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 the orphanage 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 in a psychiatric clinic for some time. 
          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 has intense social life. 

Statistical Information

            According to data from different sources there are about 276 psycho - neurological asylums (nursing homes) in Russia, in which about 300 000 people live. 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 there 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  used to be a home and an eternal prison for many inhabitants, is closely intertwined with the fate of the people. This building, as if embodying Kafka’s Castle, which 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 it was decided  to carry inhabitants in Psycho-neurological asylum (nursing home) outside the city to  Zelenogorsk, st. Mira, 4. And on the place of historical and human monument the project «Smolny Kvartal», which will become a commercial property, will be implemented. 
           In July 2009, mass displacement of one thousand inhabitants to Zelenogorsk, st. Mira, 4, began. 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 alms house which belonged to Psycho-neurological asylum (nursing home) №1 and was built in the XIX century, was demolished. Construction of a new building of the Arbitration Court started at the site of the demolished buildings and park. , It was completed in 2019. 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.

Main Goal

            At the initiative of Yuri, this project ‘The Castle’ was completed.  as a symbol of memories of what had happened and the memory of the place that existed for several centuries. 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 and to bear witness to all that survives of that ‘‘closed inner world’’ of people who lived in that place. In addition to the above, this work also helps us to understand the human heart better and take a fresh look at those ones who are slightly different from the general mass of people, and perhaps are more aware of the fact that our personal attitude prevents us from removing the barriers between “healthy” and "sick."


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