I have been visiting all different parts of Moscow lately at the most unusual hours. One evening not long ago I found myself near Elektrozavodskaya, one of the many suburban train platforms. As I was emerging from the metro, this voice drew my immediate attention:
There are some places in Moscow which always make me think of Christmas, no matter what time of the year I happen to stumble upon them. The shopping window in the Old Arbat which you can see above is one of those places. It belongs to one of souvenir shops the street is filled with. The Old Arbat used to be the bohemian heart of Moscow, the place where all the poets of the Silver Age lived and worked, and where the kitchen in just about any flat could have been the very space where they living through their joys, disillusionments and depressions on one of the many posidelky (kitchen parties). Not much of the bohemian chic has survived the historical turmoil Russia has gone through since the time of Tsvetayeva and Akmatova, and the place is now mostly filled with tourists. This one shopping window, however, and the infallibly turning, delicate apparatus it displays, retain a spark of magic. I stopped by the place one gloomy afternoon last October, and this is what I saw:
This is a sound postcard I recorded on Shchelkovskaya, to accompany the photographs you already had the chance to see. Enjoy.
My obsession with the Moscow metro does not seem to decrease with time – and I must say that it does not come as a surprise to me, since my life here is centred on the metro – the times when it opens and closes, the location of the stations, the intervals with which the trains depart. Moscow metro is an institution in itself, the most important means of transport, a major meeting point, a witness of history, a tourist attraction. When the metro is written or talked about, the focus is placed on the central stations – staple examples of stalinist baroque and carriers of last epoch’s propaganda, huge interchange hubs, filling up with crowds of people in the rush hours. The outlying, pragmatic stations come completely unnoticed – built much, much later, they sole function has always been to provide the districts of impersonal, gigantic blocks of flats with the essential connection with the world, not to emphasise the power of the empire. This is also where the mundane, everyday, ant-like life of the metropolis is staged, and just as the real Russia begins beyond the MKAD – real Moscow begins beyond the circle line.