Anna Jermolaewa

*1970 in St. Petersburg, Russia

Anna Jermolaewa, Hermitage Cats, 2013, Photographs, video, drawings © Courtesy of the artist / Photo: Simon Vogel

To many people, cats appear to be the perfect creatures. Even in ancient Egypt, the skilful mouse hunters were considered divine. The installation Untitled (Hermitage Cats) by Anna Jermolaewa (born 1970 in St. Petersburg) is dedicated to the useful pest controllers and consists, among other things, of 40 photographic portraits of cats. These are of state employees of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Cats have been living in the palace for more than 250 years on the basis of a edict issued by Tsarina Elisabeth in 1745. The ruler hated rats and mice, and so to this day several cats constantly protect the museum’s rooms from rodents. But Anna Jermolaewa’s work also tells of the disappearance of all cats during the blockade of Leningrad during the Second World War. The encircled population of the city slaughtered all the animals to avoid starvation.