Heart of Moscow (From the Archives)

This is the proverbial heart of Moscow.

You can even see the Kremlin looming in the background. I could wander here for hours.

Blueprints of these streets—both the old, narrow, winding, covered with cobble stone and broad, multi-lane highways—exist semi-consciously in my mind or, perhaps, on a more primal, physical level.  I walk and walk these streets somewhere at the intersection of sight and disjointed memories: I've been here before, and I'll be here again. 

You know, I think I'm really liking this self-imposed archival section of the blog. Not only does it allow me to reevaluate my previous work, but also to discover certain aesthetically pleasing photographs that have been hiding in my files!

Eurasia sans Color

Beyond this city dweller's melancholy and, at the same time, inquisitive facial expression (!), I've liked this image ever since I had captured it. Yet I couldn't quite determine as to why.

Only after converting it to sepia, I realized that what I was being drawn to was its strong tactile quality--the textural contrast between the rusted fence and this Eurasian crow's smooth, shiny feathers.

Color, color that I normally love, had to be destroyed.

Placebo

Perhaps, I am getting a tad predictable in my old age.

After all, as I had tasted my coffee diluted with cold autumn rain on another interchangeable cloudy, stormy, gray evening on the way home, I've naturally gravitated toward posting sun-kissed onion domes of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.

And a place that I always miss. Sometimes more so than others.

In Prayer?

She sat on a bench outside the Greater Church of the Ascension at Nikitskii Gates Square, glasses on the tip of her nose, as her entire face was buried in a prayer book held by the strained tips of her elongated fingers. Frowning heavily, her face had the expression not of mere concentration but of genuine sorrow.

 

Documentary photography of what I call The City presupposes my chosen subjects' complete lack of awareness that they are being targeted.  And I don't feel uncomfortable about that: after all, I am recording urban life--factographically, as 1920s Russian aesthetic theorists would've referred to it--with respect for each subject.

With her, however, I felt that I was infringing on a very private moment even if held in a public space. I suppose full-time photojournalists in war zones get over that sentiment very quickly.

To me, the line of documentation and intrusion now seems blurred.

Where Did All the Bubbles Go?

Considering what I normally post to this blog, seeing the following images might come as a bit of a surprise. However, I really enjoy recording interactions between people and their children (and, of course, people and their pets!). 

Unlike most photography of this nature, my preference is, by and large, documentary, that is, no posing is involved.  I believe that it's both possible to depict people at their best and their most authentic at the same time.

Of these, my favorite shows the two children, because it resembles something between Renoir and Degas. 

Moscow Nights

>>Enter nostalgic mode. <<

"Moscow Nights" is likely one of the best known Russian songs abroad. Despite being somewhat contrived, however, it possesses the right kind of sentimentality, especially when performed by our operatic badass, Dmitri Hvorostovsky:

The river is flowing, and seems still;
Everything shines silver in the moonlight;
Song is heard, and then it's silent again
On these quiet evenings.

Like this: 

Of course, technically the song is about those nights that are spent outside of Moscow. Yet, at the same time, Russia's capital was smaller when it was written in the 1950s, so the error is forgivable. 

Moscow is a magical city.  If you look up, you just might catch a glimpse of a naked witch flying over your head as she straddles a pig. At least in literature!  

But it can also be serene. After all, it rightfully is the Third Rome. 

These are my recent Moscow nights:

A bit too central, but at least I lived them.

Birdman

Is it possible to shoot 10 GB of photos and pick a single favorite? 

Yes. 

This is it: 

He really stood out, this Birdman, in Moscow's Vorontsovsky Park, filled with joyous children and their parents' fashionably overdressed lapdogs.

Some would say that he was an urban St. Francis, but a more careful inspection reveals the piercing alienation of a contemporary metropolis embedded in the grooves on his face.

A Fateful Place for a Meeting

- Do you know whom you are speaking with - Woland asked the newcomer - and whom you're currently visiting?
- I know - replied the Master - my neighbor in the mental asylum was this boy, Ivan the Homeless. He told me about you.
- Of course - Woland responded - I had the pleasure of meeting this young man at the Patriarch's Ponds. He almost drove me insane, proving to me that I do not exist! But you do believe that I am real?
 - I am forced to believe - said the newcomer - but, of course, it would be much safer to consider you a fruit of my hallucinations. I apologize - realizing what he had just said - added the Master.

(Bulgakov, Master and Margarita, chapter 24)