St Peterburg, as I’ve written before, is quite rich in street art. New pieces appear, get painted over, vandalised, the whole gamut. With any luck, the piece by Central Asian artists Pasha Cas and Pavel Mokich, which commemorated the 74th anniversary of death of Soviet author Daniil Kharms, is here to stay.
Kharms occupied a room in a block of flats at the corner of Kovensky lane and Mayakovskogo street from 1925 until 1941, when he was arrested on charges of spreading anti-Soviet propaganda. He starved to death in a prison hospital during the siege of Leningrad, and his writings mostly remained unpublished until long after he died.
However, Kharms is now a byword for absurdism in Russian literature. His works are republished, translated, set to music. A street was named after Kharms in a remote new neighbourhood of the city in 2014. As a regular, he’s name-checked on a plaque outside the Buddhist temple. For the centenary of Kharms’ birth in 2005, two plaques were unveiled in Petrograd Side and another one, by sculptor Vyacheslav Bukhayev, on his house. It quoted a line from Kharms’ poem, “A Man Left Home“, which is thought to have prophecised his arrest.
Now, with the 10-metre mural to commemorate his death, the circle is complete. The piece seems to be based on a famous photograph of Kharms’, and is augmented with a signature he used. I think it’s a worthy tribute to a good author, and it looks sufficiently menacing, if his fate is taken into account.