The BOLSHAYA PESHKA project was supposed to be realised in June 2020, but has been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Entrance view

View from river Moyka / Arch of Vallin de la Mothe

View from Konnogvardeyskiy Bul'var

Interior view

A site-specific installation conceived for New Holland Island in Saint Peterburg

“I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.”
Marcel Duchamp

The 1914 World Chess Championship took place in St. Petersburg and had the Cuban master Capablanca fighting for the main title. He is considered one of the greatest players of all time, with a smiling face. His direct opposite is Aleksandr Luzhin, the main character of Vladimir Nabokov's novel "The Defence". He is an awkward, withdrawn, and disoriented chess genius. He has a nightmare in which he, as a naked pawn, is surrounded by huge figures - "some with crown, some with mane" - attacking him in a deadly struggle. The 1925 silent movie directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin shows the obsession of a multitude of chess players. In this movie - Chess Fever - there is one character spreading an optimistic realm: José Raúl Capablanca. St. Petersburg used to be the playground of many chess matters and BOLSHAYA PESHKA renews this vision and dissolves Luzhin's nightmare. His alter ego - the small pawn - inflates itself, and grows into a golden self-confident subject.

Pause and think. A small unimportant thing could become a significant precious matter. An installation could be temporary but leave enduring memories behind. A vacant public space could be cocooned by air and thin fabric to metamorphose into a monumental pneumatic substance. This pneuma breathes new life into the city and makes the invisible visible.

BOLSHAYA PESHKA is a colossal fantastic sculpture that spreads a surreal realm over New Holland Island, seducing visitors to stroll around it. Beyond its physical boundary, the Pawn spreads out its visual realm to be seen from many points of the city: it becomes a temporary landmark.

Play - Public Art
The city becomes a chessboard to play Chess - the art of game. BOLSHAYA PESHKA initiates dialogues between its imaginary counterparts - people and buildings - in its cheerful way. It plays with the perception between personal standards and social illusion.
The joyful installation invites people to interact and play with the artwork. The platform on the pond of the island turns into a stage on the water. People enter the sculpture and become performers, completing the comprehensive experience.

BOLSHAYA PESHKA is a Plastique Fantastique project for New Holland in Saint Peterburg, Russia.
Plastique Fantastique team:  Marco Canevacci and Yena Young.

Many thanks to:
Aleksey Rousanov, New Holland
Nastya Gayvoronskaya, New Holland
Robert Meyknecht, geo - Die Luftwerker
Boris Reyher, sbp – schlaich bergermann partner

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