Lucia Ganieva’s Ermitazhniki

From 22 September 2010 through 16 september 2011

In Hermitage Amsterdam (photo presentation in the ‘Heren’wing)

Nikitina Ludmila Alekseevna, Vasilyeva Natalya Vasilyevna and Metelicha Inna Igorevna. Photos: Lucia Ganieva

These women work in a museum – the most important museum in Russia. Millions of eyes flit over the faces of these attendants without really seeing them. The women arrive and take up their positions in the morning, when the galleries are still empty. They keep a watchful eye on their surroundings all day long. In the evening, once silence has descended over the museum again, they go home. They are seldom transferred to a different room. They must simply adapt to the circumstances in which they find themselves.

Lucia Ganieva has a penchant for unusual vantage points. She is probably the first photographer to derive inspiration from the people who ‘live’ in the museum. Very occasionally the attendants are allowed to decide which room to work in. This creates harmony with their surroundings. It gives them a sense of pride, in themselves and in their place of work. In their choice of clothes for the photo session, they seek to make their appearance correspond to their favourite kind of art: impressionists, Murillo . . . In short, the artists with whom they spend their time in the museum, day in, day out.

The attendants say nothing, but their faces and eyes are highly expressive. The photographer deliberately steers clear of personal elements, gestures, marks on their hands that would be suggestive of their lives. Instead, she focuses on their relationship with the museum’s visitors and the art all around them.

In Lucia Ganieva’s photographs, the women are presented in the manner of nuns who have abandoned their previous lives, together with all former differences of class and education. They have all become museum-dwellers. The title Ermitazhniki alludes to a unique phenomenon: the Hermitage as a place of residence, and equally as a vocation. The word creates the combined suggestion of life and work in the Hermitage.

Lucia Ganieva was born in Russia, and has lived in the Netherlands since 1993. In March 2007 she graduated with the highest academic honours from the Foto Academie in Amsterdam.

Since 2006 she has held regular exhibitions both in the Netherlands and elsewhere. She has received numerous prestigious prizes and nominations for her work.

http://www.luciaganieva.com

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Photo Roy Beusker Fotografie

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