Friday, 27 February 2009
Opulence in shades of red
It's not so much that people remember things differently- certain generations will never forget certain generational markers, it's perhaps more a case of how memories are made public for the here and now.
Maybe that doesn't make sense so here's a comparative example. Berlin and Moscow were perhaps the most important political centres of the 20th century. What happened within the halls of government in these cities decided the fate of billions of people. On the whole, it was a terrible fate and pretty much the entire world lived with the consequences. In Berlin, Nazi locales are marked ever so modestly - often with just a small plaque. They're not forgetting, but they're not going to enshrine, either. In Moscow, there aren't any long queues for bread, but if you fell into a coma back in 1982 and woke up in Moscow today, you might think Communism simply melted into some sort of bureaucratic-consumerist hybrid of itself- and is a great success. Odes to Communism's opulence for the people - best seen in the Metro - are artfully riddled with insignia and what was, more or less, propaganda. Are Russian's today simply reclaiming these things from the days when they were used against them? Or, did Communism fall in a kind of half-hearted way? Remaining at the back of the collective mind as a 'plan B' should capitalism fail? Anyway, that's just some stuff I thought about as we walked through the chilly grit of the city.
One day I'd like to go back to Moscow and make a point of stopping in every metro station. On this trip, the incredible mosaics in Novokuznetskaya Station were my favorites. On the platform were massive moldings depicting ancient Russian military heros and along the ceiling of the hall separating the platforms were said mosaics with a more contemporary theme.
Chandaliers hung in some stations, others had these 'hammer-and-sickle' pendulum lamps.
We took a chilly evening walk around and through Red Square. Where, as our hosts mentioned, nothing really changed. Here's Aidan paying his respects to Lenin.
As you enter the square you are reminded that you are at the centre of the universe.
A shot overlooking the Moscow River.
Perhaps even the fathers of Communism had a 'plan B' at the backs of their minds as the many domes of ancient churches still stand on the perimeter. St. Basil's being an obvious focal point.
Our meandering through the city also brought us to the park on Bolotnaya Square, home to Mihail Shemyakin's 'The Children - Victims of Adult Vices'.
It was a battle getting here and we couldn't do it without these two ladies.
Big props and большие спасибо to Zalina and Marusja.