Tag Archives: photography

… of The Holy Land in America

Can you copy the heritage? I’d rephrase: for example, can you bring home replica of certain historical site and claim that this replica holds onto the same historical importance?

During my most recent stay in Washington, DC I visited its very own Franciscan monastery. I’m not a religious person, and Christianity is quite far from my spiritual journey, so to say. Yet I enjoy visiting temples and cathedrals, synagogues and mosques, as many of them capture that moment of unity with oneself and divine – whatever the divinity itself means to you. To my surprise, the fact of visiting the monastery, even the mere desire of doing so, left most people shrugging shoulders. “Why bother,” – They say, – “It is not a real Franciscan hermitage, it does not have the history.”

For me this is quite a surprising assumption. Even if it was built just a century ago and its beautiful shrines are mere replicas, even if it shines with clean, crisp golden paint, even it does not smell of mold and 800 centuries, this monastery has all the right to arouse interest not only among historians and religion scholars, but among simple tourists as well. At least that what I thought before my visit, and it proved me right. Mind you, this friary is not just a museum, it is a functioning monastery.

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Located in Brookland, relatively diverse neighbourhood, The Franciscan Monastery was built in late 1890’s, but the plans of “Holy Land in America” started way before. The monastery architecture is a beautiful design, in Byzantium style with slight Romanesque influences and inspired by basilicas in Jerusalem and two cloisters in Rome.

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The monastery is surrounded by Rosary portico, decorated with early Christian symbols. The whole landscape is exact replica of holy sites that were photographed meticulously for the construction.

All the details, small and tiny, on the entering the church, are worth attention.

This is the inside of the church, look at the colours of the dome!

Interestingly enough, the main altar is located right in the center of the church, just beneath the central dome.

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However, the main treat is not even the main hall but rather the “catacombs.” One has to descend just few stairs and enter miniature door (one of many in monastery, which is the height of child of 6 years old: sometimes I felt like Alice in Wonderland wishing for cookie that would make me tiny and fit comfortably into the door space) — and voila, one find themselves inside the shrine of Bethlehem, which is the replica of Grotto of Nativity form the 4th century Church of Nativity.

 

Through the long tunnels, dimly lit by electrical candles, you touch the rough walls while passing by the shrines and bones of different saints and for a moment you feel that heavy history of medieval ages.

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At the end of the tunnels and various hallways you enter the Catacombs, which are the copy of early Christian catacombs of Rome. The wall decorations are copies of original frescoes.

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As I strolled through the land, lost within infinite silent gardens and captured by various solemn statues of St. Francis, I was immersed in the whole replica of history. It was replica from outside, but to me it succeeded in preserving the whole period of history, its essence and meaning.

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Momentum

Single work of art – be it a visual piece like painting or sculpture, or rather physical like dance or theatre – is not alive till the viewer sees it and, by analysing (often unconsciously) starts interpreting it. The painter might have a certain meaning for his entire work, however, as an audience, we usually only take small, separate details out of it. The more we analyze the painting, the less it stays the whole for us — the more it breaks into pieces, each having its own meaning and interpretation. One could say that a viewer develops the work of art further, into its “life.”

These details and tiny moments worth of second that we notice, sometimes can be discovered in newer works and can show the whole piece in completely new light..

The following represents one such intimate experience of mine with works of art, particularly Henry Moore sculptures and dancer Benjamin Kamino performance of Nudity. Desire – long drawn.

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Floating in the Air.

Floating in the Air..  The enormous while balloon slowly raised into the night sky above the grasping crowd, dragging behind a tiny delicate figurine.

Floating in the air.. I thought it would be interesting to visualize the acrobat not hanging under the balloon’s bottom, but rather playfully kicking the ball in front of her, both floating in darkness nowhere and in no time.

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They were clowns in blistering, silky unappealing costumes– rather resembling medusas than snowflakes (which, I’m quite sure, was the intention at the Winter Festival)..

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These snowflakes, or whoever they were, had apparently very difficult relationship– sort of expressing the same old swings “push-pull”. Well, what you can say, flaky creatures, flaky feelings.. ))

A Mirage

When looking at this landscape with naked eye, it seemed merely beautiful– but I would not imagine the ways one photograph could transform it, sewing mirage out of the city landscape and the river bridges out of the bay line.. Or maybe the ship symbolizes that mirage, desirable optical phenomenon, while the city is forcing onto us its own reality.

..It does happen so often, when we tend to confuse and blend what is the real and what is something we desire to see, doesn’t it.

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Chicago Style: Through Prism of Phonetics, Colours, Rail Tracks.. and Sparrows

When I visited Chicago just couple weeks ago, for the very first time, I went through two (non) cultural shocks.  that and annoying hungry sparrows. 

1. It is pronounced [Shi-ka-go], as if the old lady who can not make any harder sounds tries to pronounce it. Not sexy, bold, appealing [i-ka-go] like in chess..

just realized how exhausting it will be to express phonetical frustration on paper. 

anyway, it is quite interesting how sounds and phonetical elements of the word are glued so intense into our minds that it is almost impossible to accept new ways of pronunciation. so I guess i will continue Italian gang style, chicago:)

2. Who said Chicago is like New York  (or rather, visa verse but doesn’t really matter)? “Ah, you love NYC? You will love Chicago even more!! ” Nope. The first 5 hours I was there I was jumping, happy-go-lucky, with wide eyes and not less wide open mouth– architecture heaven, same narrow streets with reach-the-sky churches and yay, I found another NYC for myself!! Taking into account I lived in NYC for almost 6 months few years ago, you have all the rights to lift the brow (no, do both of them) onto such statement. Yes, the second half of the very same day I devoted to a very slow realization that Chicago is not the same. It is gangster, mob city. And it is the city of neighbourhoods (maybe 2-3 in total you would want to visit) which are limited to just dozen blocks. 

But I still would love Chicago as any city which forces me to look up and up..

 

Chicago has an open train system- mostly above the ground. This offers fantastic views– not only on the city itself, but also on the whole composition of the city along with rail tracks. Somehow this old, ugly, rusty reddened massive ironmongery blends into the city landscape very harmonically. The lines of skyscrapers, the whole beautiful geometry of colours and styles would just collapse without those rail tracks…

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How about some crazy colours splashing over Chicago? With nice weird effect of prism filter. Although, using colours, I honestly transferred my cheerful coming to terms with the city, yet I could not stop gut feeling it was deserted. Maybe it was part of the long weekend, maybe hot summer days..  I would never imagine Chicago as ghost town– although quite often it felt like one. Some say, it’d file for bankruptcy like Detroit. So not sure if this was just very obvious result of yet another crisis in the row. 

 

Now: Why Lincoln statue has a chair?.. Anyway he stands, so why it was so absolutely necessary to put up the chair there? I understand when the ‘greatest ones’ are featured in work of art with some element they always carried along– hat, glasses, book, naked angry cat — but chair…???

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Well, and least but not last… Meet Chicago real local mob:))

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The Maze of Emotions

Originally, it is a huge retro TV screen frame with control buttons on the sides, on plain greyish wall. There is nothing nearby, it is empty wall of the rough several stories building bordering wasteland.

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Once I saw it, I immediately had few ideas about how I would play with the image, but the result actually came very spontaneously out of my hand. I came up with different versions of image, but this one is so far my favourite.

This is my Imagery of my self discovery. This is an Imagery of tense and confusing relationship of two “persons” inside me, call it Me and my Intuition, or Me and Inner Voice, or Me Rational and Me Emotional, or Me and Self. We dig ourselves quite deeply, but not always we discover desired results at the bottom. It could be emptiness, it could be mirror with mutilated reflection. It could be Dead End.

This is my Imagery of the labyrinth of the consciousness. The maze with Dead End, or sometimes the infinite maze. Sometimes, in order to move on, to go further, we have only one obstacle. And that obstacle is us, ourselves.

This was my Vision of dragging and exhausting relationship between two people. Each person could not put aside his own ego to preserve the relations. Each was not willing to compromise and was not willing to create exit for the maze of emotions. Sometimes it is easier to wander around and around, dragging confusion and irritation along, rather then break the wall and exit the labyrinth. For every labyrinth conceals hopefulness, because every time you are on the edge of breaking out, you feel the slight bittersweet taste of hope that the next turn will open the door for you.

This was my Vision of the person who was at the same time the closest-to and furthest-from me then everybody else in the world. This person had locked himself inside under hundreds of locks, carefully building up false masks. You open door after door, and with every open new door you see different false mask of him. I guess this is sort of self defence that many of us build. 

But be careful, with all pyramid of masks and layers you can loose and forget true yourself.

Ironically, this is the one and only photograph of that person. Maybe that is for better I do not have picture of his face and it gradually faded away in my mind. Maybe after a while I will remember that story as the Tale of my Imagery. 

Shattered Glass of Cities

IMG_0056The urban system we live in is very interesting: you feel the city is a whole and at the same it feels like shattered glass, mosaic combined out of million and one pieces. All the cities I lived in and went through, lacked one thing they are supposed to boast about: unity and wholeness.

The city is like a person:IMG_0060 it has its own character (others admire him/her for this or despise), it has different traits (habitual patterns of behaviour, thought and emotion).   It attracts certain types of people. The city can be in a really bad mood, it can stay depressed for decades– and it takes long time to heal city’s scars and memories.

Once I was working on “Urban Health in Toronto” photography project, for non profit organization– as element of promotion for them. I loved doing it: I had only vague title and I could put as much imagination and creativity of my own to interpret it. IMG_00627Multiculturalism, hipsters, social& economical gaps, architecture, landscape and design, people as they are: everything fits under term “urban health”.

Toronto is incredible city in the sense of multiculture: it is diverse, but every single culture is living within itself, isolated and separated.

I would never consider that they represent Toronto or vice versa, if you visit most of those ethnic neighborhoods, you’ll see: there is no even slightest hint that it is part of the city. Each lives its own life. It’s not bad, it’s not good: it just IS.

The instant I stumbled on that poster, I was bewildered. IMG_006510For me it represented my whole idea of city’s character, my vision of the city I live (or at least trying to): the way how vandalism shattered the glass along the image and the point where of reflections of Coca-Cola, TD Bank and image of Hindu Temple blended together (trust me, not even touched by photoshop).

It became sort of symbol of my own interpretation of urbanism: how multiculturalism, globalisation and urbanism blended together, reflected in each other and at the same time are separated. 

City is the shattered glass, on the edge of being broken in million and one pieces.

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