8.9.04

Moscow 04 p6

Wushu adventures and the Tretiakov Gallery

Monday September 6
 My plan was to attend the championship all day, as this was the final day, meaning the most interesting and innovative forms would be presented. Quintana was very interested, so she came along. First we walked up to the Leningrad station so she could take her tickets for St-Petersburg.


We were amused in the metro by a stray dog that had hitched
a ride and was blissfully asleep across the seats.
When we reached Druzhba,  a member of our team was waiting for me outside with a guest card, "so that I wouldn't have to keep paying to attend". With all my comings and goings they had gotten used to me, and though the card came late it was welcome, not so much for the entrance fee (50p is nothing) as for the closing party that would take place that evening. Quintana left after the performance while I stayed with the guys, attending the endless medal distribution (5 medals for Lebanon!) and buying myself yet another sword… In the evening we all went back to the hotel so everyone could get ready, and then on to the "party", which turned out to be a seated dinner with not enough room at the tables, so that the three of us set ourselves up using an extra chair for a table. Still, it was fun.

Tuesday September 7

New French roommate that made it a point to fulfil the French stereotype of endless and constant nagging. She, Quintana and I had breakfast together then Q and I escaped. I wanted to go to the Tretiakov Gallery and she to see Lenin, so we travelled part of the way together.

The Tretiakov Gallery
The Tretiakov was worth the detour. It contains so many works I had to skim and stop only on those I found most striking, and they were numerous. I knew nothing of Russian artists, and I left enchanted with their discovery. Here are just four of the works that amazed me most.

V. Poukiriev: The Unequal Wedding
A very strong image of the dowry-less young woman forced to marry an old man. Does the unhappy young man in a corner symbolize true love?
K. Flatvitski: Princess Tarakanova
The princess about to be drowned in her flooded cell. The light is simply superb, and her hidden expression leaves us to imagine her feelings of horror.

I. Kramskoi: Christ in the Desert
 An unconventional and highly realistic image. I wish the eyes were clearer here: their foreboding expression is overwhelming.

A. Kuinji: A Moonlight Night over the Dneper
My favorite in the entire museum, although far from being one of the most famous. Seen in person, the green light seems to truly shine through the dark night.

All four are artists who belonged to the second half of the 19th century, at a time when social changes (abolition of serfdom, war in the Crimea) established a quest for truth and for an alliance between beauty and critique. As such they became the "photographers" of their time, no longer seeking to gloss over its imperfections.

After a lunch of pelm'eni at the museum (yum!!) and rather than going straight home, I found myself wandering towards the river and across a large bridge, taking my last pictures, until I ended up in the shadow of the Kremlin once again. There was much security about, and I only understood it later, when I arrived at the hostel to find, live on TV, that an enormous anti-terrorism demonstration was taking place in the Red Square where many of us present were standing only a couple of hours prior. The irony of watching what was happening in Moscow live on a British news channel was not lost on us.


Mounted police outside the Kremlin
 Those were my last images of Moscow before the taxi came to take me to the airport. I leave you, however, with this image I find amusing – an abandoned bottle and a parking sign that seems to say "please park next to the sidewalk"!