Petr Antonov

Petr Antonov / b. 1977, Russia / lives and works in Moscow


The 5th Ural Biennial Main Project features the work:
«Fundamental Catalogue» (Photo, video, 2019)
Courtesy of the artist

In his work Petr Antonov uses the medium of photography to explore visible traces of history and culture, as well as possibilities of photography as an artistic tool. Fundamental Catalogue explores the little known history of the Leningrad Pulkovo Observatory scientific mission to Chile. Between 1962 and 1973 Soviet and Chilean astronomers were carrying out joint observations of the southern sky. The mission required three purposely built telescopes, two of which still remain in Chile. In September 1973 the scientific work was abruptly interrupted by the right-wing military coup led by general Augusto Pinochet, and the Soviet astronomers had to leave the country immediately. The Fundamental Stars Catalogue SPF1, a result of the eleven years of joint work by the Pulkovo Observatory and the University of Chile was published in Santiago in 1975, two years after the unexpected departure of the Soviet astronomers.

Bringing together contemporary and archive photographs, scientific imagery, found objects, and a video, the project looks for possible relations between science, politics, global economy and technology. The election of a Marxist president in Chile resulted in the hurried evacuation of the Soviet scientists. Three years later, the largest Soviet telescope in Chile ceased operations as a consequence of the worldwide scarcity of the photographic film, while establishing correct star coordinates in the Southern Hemisphere turns out essential for the spacecraft navigation. Fundamental Catalogue is a part of a larger research carried out together with Pedro Ignacio Alonso and Hugo Palmarola of the Catholic University of Chile with support from The National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development of Chile.