SANKI Code. New Silver Print, Valentin Samarin, Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art

“SANKI Code. New Silver Print”, a solo exhibition by a legendary photographer Valentin Samarin, a citizen of Paris and St. Petersburg. Samarin has been developing his original creative method of SANKI for more than 40 years. By his own definition, SANKI is “the mystery of old silver photography, metamorphoses of energy projections, unseen in ordinary photography, and metaphysics of invisible projections of Light and Shadow in the spiritual human world of passions”. The word “sanki” refers to the ancient Chinese philosophy.

The artist’s biography is impressive: a photographer, an artist, a metaphysician, an active representative of the Leningrad underground, who was persecuted by the KGB and exiled from the Soviet Union in 1981. For several decades he lived in Paris, was a friend of Alex Hvostenko and Natalya Medvedeva, took photos, arranged performances and collaborated with the local cosmopolitan artistic squats.

Only a few years ago Valentin Samarin got back his Russian citizenship and celebrated this fact with a number of exhibitions, including ones at the Russian Museum and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. In his 86 Valentin Samarin is amazingly energetic and active. The exhibition in Erarta features works from different periods of the artist’s life: Leningrad of the 70s, life in Paris and recent St. Petersburg works.

Valentin Samarin
Valentin Prokhorovich Samarin (born April 4, 1928, Leningrad ) is a Russian photographer, artist, metaphysician.

Samarin proposed a photography technique in the 1970s, which he called Sanki and described as “the possibility of seeing another reality.” Sanki, according to the author’s definition, “is a mystery of old silver photography, a metamorphosis of energy projections that are invisible in normal photography, a metaphysics of invisible projections of Light and Shadow of a person’s spiritual world, his passions.” The word “sanki” is borrowed from the book on ancient Chinese philosophy “Sensory Energy”.

Often, Samarin’s work’s description focuses on “silver gelatin printing technology”, however, it should be understood that this is the most common monochrome (usually black and white) photo printing technology that has been used in industrial and household photography from the end of the 19th century to the present. Sometimes you can meet the definition of “silver photography” or “silver technology of photography”, which means the same thing – monochrome (black and white) photography, which is based on the photosensitivity of silver halides. An alternative to this technology in photography is color photography., and this is conditional, since the same silver halides are used in color analog (film) photography, and various technologies of digital photography are fully an alternative to “silver photography” (analog, film).

Sometimes one can find references to the use of the silver-bromide base in the emulsion of Samarin’s photographs, – this largely explains the “metaphysics” and “spirituality” of the “invisible projections” of the world and the “other reality” in his photographs, since the silver-bromide emulsion is sensitive to violet spectral region (and a silver-silver emulsion (perhaps this one was also meant?) is sensitive to the invisible, ultraviolet light spectrum). The emphasis on specialized photographic materials, of course, does not underestimate the work of the photographer – the choice of the object, background, angle, lighting, exposure and all other components of the photography technique.

In general, the style (or technique) of “Sanki” is not determined by printing technology and is not associated exclusively with black and white (“silver”, “old”) photography – this is a general expression of expressionism in photography – deformation, color and light contrasts, and others experiments from the field of abstract image perception.

Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art
Erarta is the biggest global project in Russian contemporary art, a must-see institution for gaining insight into modern Russia. At the heart of Erarta lies a totally unique approach to both the art and the viewer, a desire to build a new relationship system between people and art. The museum’s absolute focus and priority are concentrated on the most important person at Erarta – the visitor. All of Erarta’s activities are aimed at growing the number of people who appreciate and love contemporary art because at the core of the institution lies a belief that love of art can make any individual’s life more interesting and fulfilling, thus, ultimately, spreading a passion for art makes the world a happier place.

Erarta is Russia’s largest private museum of contemporary art, a must-see place for gaining insight into modern Russia. Its permanent collection featuring over 2,800 works by Russian artists, along with more than 40 exciting temporary exhibitions staged by the museum every year, have firmly established it on the list of things to do in St. Petersburg. Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art was repeatedly mentioned as a top choice tourist attraction by Lonely Planet guidebooks; ranks among the top 10 museums in Russia on TripAdvisor; was spotlighted as one of the ‘5 Cultural Gems’ among places to visit in St. Petersburg by National Geographic, and became the country’s first contemporary art museum to be featured on Google Arts and Culture Project.

In St. Petersburg, one of the wings of its 10,000 sq. m building is dedicated to the permanent exhibit of the collection of Erarta Museum, the largest private museum in Russia, containing 2800 works by more than 300 artists from all over the country. Another two wings are dedicated to temporary exhibitions and change completely every three months, with over 35 shows in total staged each year. There is also a multi-function Erarta Stage performance hall with a maximum occupancy of 800, which every year hosts over 300 various events such as plays, concerts and film screenings as well as lectures and meetings with renowned figures from the worlds of art, fashion and design. Erarta is open every day except for Tuesdays, from 10:00 till 22:00