Round the clock [by Misha Vallejo]

"The ultimate wisdom of the photographic image is to say: " There is the surface. Now think – or rather feel, intuit – what is beyond it, what the reality must be like if it looks this way." Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation and fantasy". - Susan Sontag, On Photography, 1977

Russia is the biggest country in the world, whose economy is growing with huge steps everyday. The biggest incomes come from gas and oil, but an important source (not because of the amount of profits, but of the socio-economic fact) are the local stores in residential zones of cities and villages. Many of them are opened 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For the average Russian citizen this schedules are common, people are so used to this abnormal normality and it would be very strange if it didn't exist.

There is a huge variety of stores: from pharmacies and "larechki" (small stores with food, alcohol, cigarettes and more) to flower stores, car washes, underground casinos, saunas and more.

These small pavilions are a heritage of a post-soviet era, when people started to be allowed to have their own businesses. Some people got in the oil and gas business, some got their own factories, and others opened these stores. Since the fall of the soviet regime, the Russians try to work better for themselves rather than for other people.

But at the same time, these stores may be a projection (wanted or not) of dream-government, where everything works round the clock, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and where people do everything they can, to save a little money. This is a dehumanising perspective, where the right to rest is abolished by the people itself. The most frightening part, is that society doesn't realise this.

The present series of photographs should serve as a document of this part of the Russian daily life. The photographs were taken between 00 and 06 AM in a popular residential neighbourhood of St. Petersburg during the spring-summer of 2011.