Last Portrait

Video Artist: Alexander Terebenin
Country: Year: Duration: 11 min 19 sec


Peter Grunwald, a statistician at the Dutch Center of Mathematics and Computer Science, calculated that over 107 billion people were born on Earth throughout human history. If we are to trust those numbers and to factor in the 7 billion people currently living on the planet earth, then we can conclude that throughout time more than 100 billion people have been born and died on planet Earth.

Time whisked away the images of most of the former inhabitants of our planet, capturing only a a select few.  At different times, the visual memory of the dead was preserved by way of death masks and funerary portraits in painting or in sculpture. With the advent of daguerreotype and photography itself, capturing an image for posterity became easier than ever, and by the twentieth century a culture of grave photo imagery emerged in force. This new form photography often manifests as enameled oval plaques at the site of the grave; however, these enamel images are not durable — these images fade in the sun, wash away in the rain, or simply disappear with time. As the years go, a new image replaces the lost photographs — an image created by the elements.

Billions of the departed didn’t leave their images behind.  The Last Portrait is a monument to all mankind.

Alexander Terebenin

January 22, 1959, Leningrad, USSR - June 17, 2021, St. Petersburg.

Graduated from the Architectural College in Leningrad. Being a professional artist, photographer, Terebenin also creates art objects and installations. He is a participant of over 70 exhibitions in Russia and around the world. His works are presented in the collections of the Museum of City History (St. Petersburg, Russia), Kolod-zei Art Foundation (New York, USA), as well as in the galleries and private collections in Russia, USA, Israel, Germany, Finland and many others. He is a curator of the number of art projects, including The Conversion (St. Petersburg, Russia, 2012) and The Signal (St. Petersburg, Russia, 2014). He was nominated for the first and most important award for contemporary visual art in Russia “INNOVATION Prize” for the best curatorial project of 2014 (in collaboration with P. Belyi). Lives and works in St.Petersburg, Russia.


“I developed an interest in ruin and deconstruction from the very beginning of photography. I am attracted by a certain sharpness and pain of these images, unexpectedly emerging graphic and color, abstract or even surreal compositions. Over time, the number of images made it possible to sort them into cycles and series. When I find myself in a new space, I almost automatically identify objects and angles that require fixation.

Instead of the feeling of shame and disgust that objects of my interest most often cause in an ordinary person, I experience delight and aesthetic satisfaction. And this is not a perversion, but an opportunity to see and show others a wider range of the Beauty of the world around us.”

   A. Terebenin