Sunday, 24 April 2011


The Easter time celebration is by far the most important in the Russian Orthodox Church. Many of the symbols of this celebration are already familiar to us. The gorgeous folk-art Easter eggs created in the same manner for centuries as a traditional Ukrainian folk art are easily identified by their intricate patterns and colors of red, black and golden-yellow. Equally impressive are the images of the bejeweled and bedazzling enameled eggs created by court jeweler and artist Karl Fabergé. These fabulous works of art were first commissioned in 1884 by Czar Alexander III as a special Easter present for his wife the Czarina.

Fancy Foods

The traditional Easter foods are a nut and fruit filled yeast cake called kulich and an accompanying sweet cheese spread called paskha. Often the kulich and paskha were carried to church and set out on long tables to be blessed by the priest. (In the old days, the priest would often make a "house call" to his wealthier parishioners to bless the food at home.)

The recipes for these delicacies are involved and time-consuming. The classic kulich was begun several days before Easter. It contained candied fruit, almonds, and raisins. It was always baked in a special kind of pan-- tall and cylindrical, sort of like a coffee can. When the cake was done, it was decorated with white frosting drizzled down the sides. On the side, spelled out in pieces of candied fruit, were the letters XB, representing the Cyrillic letters for "Christos voskres" -- "Christ is risen."

Next to the cake was the paskha, presented carefully molded in a triangular shape. The letters "XB" were also inscribed on this creation. Creating this delight took hours-- it requires weighing down "pot cheese" with a heavy board to drain the moisture and then pressing it though a sieve before the other ingredients were added. The mixture contained more nuts and fruits, vanilla flavoring and sugar.

Easter in Russia!

Of course, Christians all over the globe join together on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and one could probably go to an Easter service anywhere and recognize (to some degree) what was taking place. But there are also many differences in the way Easter is celebrated in different parts of the world. In particular, there are differences in the way Western Christians (Protestants and Roman Catholics) celebrate Easter and the way Eastern Orthodox Christians (members of the churches which descended from the Greek-speaking wing of the early Church) celebrate it. Perhaps it will be interesting to us in the West to learn about some of the customs related to the celebration of Easter in the East (and especially in Russia).

The most obvious difference is that Easter is normally celebrated on a different Sunday in the East and the West. Ever since the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), Christians have celebrated the resurrection of Christ on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (March 21). For most of Christian history, the church used the old Julian calendar (invented in the time of Julius Caesar in the first century B.C.) to determine when the vernal equinox would be. But in the sixteenth century it became clear that the Julian calendar was lagging behind astronomical time, and a new calendar (the Gregorian) was proposed. The Western Church accepted this new calendar, but the Eastern Church rejected it. At present, the Julian calendar is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar, and is gradually losing more and more time. That means that whereas we calculate the date of Easter from March 21 by our Gregorian calendar, the Eastern Church calculates it from March 21 by their older calendar, which equals April 3 by our calendar.

The Eastern Church also insists that Easter must follow the Jewish celebration of Passover in any given year, and that celebration is based on yet a third calendar. Depending on when the full moon occurs and when Passover takes place, Eastern Easter can fall on the same Sunday as Western Easter, or it can follow it by one week, four weeks, or five weeks. Normally Eastern Easter is one week later, but ironically, this year is one of the rare times when they fall on the same Sunday. The last time that happened was in 1990, when Easter fell on April 15 as it does this year.

A second big difference has to do with the hour of the day when Easter is celebrated. Of course, we are familiar with Easter sunrise services. But in the East (especially in Russia), Easter services last all through Saturday night. The congregation gathers in the church or cathedral on Saturday evening and takes part in an Easter vigil commemorating the buried Christ. Orthodox church buildings have an inner sanctuary blocked off from the sight of the worshipers, and at this point the door to that sanctuary is closed, signifying that the way to God is closed. But at the stroke of midnight, the priest throws the doors open and emerges, shouting, "Christ is risen! Christ is risen! Christ is risen!" After hours of silent anticipation, the congregation comes to life and shouts back, "He is risen indeed!" This custom powerfully demonstrates the way Christ’s resurrection has opened up for us the way to God.

One of my favorite Russian Easter customs has to do with dyeing Easter eggs. In Russia, children always dye the eggs red, never using other colors. The red dye, of course, symbolizes the blood of Christ. Furthermore, people crack the eggs open using nails, in order to remind themselves again of the death of Christ. As the eggs are cracked and the whites are exposed, people remember that the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin. Although our sins were as scarlet, we have been made as white as snow.

A mainstay of our Easter celebrations is the family Easter dinner following our worship services. In Russia, the corresponding dinner is actually a picnic, in which the entire congregation celebrates together. People bring food to the church on Saturday evening and ask the priests to bless it. Then after the long Easter vigil through the night and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Easter morning, people eat together on the lawn outside the church building. They believe that such an important celebration cannot be merely a private or family affair, and the worshipers are reminded by this communal picnic that all members of the body of Christ belong to one another.

Perhaps these tidbits about the celebration of Easter in Russia will not simply be interesting to us in America. Instead, they may also give us some ideas which we can incorporate into our own Easter celebrations, ideas which may help to re-focus our attention on the great truth which we all celebrate this Sunday: Christ is risen!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky, August 31 1863, Funikova Gora village, Russian Empire – September 27, 1944, Paris, France) was a Russian chemist and photographer . He is best known for his pioneering work in color photography of early 20th-century Russia.

In 1890, Prokudin-Gorsky married Anna Aleksandrovna Lavrova, and, later, the couple had two sons, Mikhail and Dmitri, and a daughter, Ekaterina. Anna was the daughter of the Russian industrialist Aleksandr Stepanovich Lavrov, an active member in the Imperial Russian Technical Society (IRTS). Prokudin-Gorsky subsequently became the director of the executive board of Lavrov's metal works near Saint Petersburg and remained so until the October Revolution. He also joined Russia's oldest photographic society, the photography section of the IRTS, presenting papers and lecturing on the science of photography. In 1901, he established a photography studio and laboratory in Saint Petersburg and further developed Miethe's methods on color photography. Throughout the years, his photographic work, publications and slide shows to other scientists and photographers in Russia, Germany and France earned him praise, and, in 1906, he was elected the president of the IRTS photography section and editor of Russia's main photography journal, the Fotograf-Liubitel.
Lithograph print of Leo Tolstoy in front of Prokudin-Gorsky's camera in Yasnaya Polyana, 1908

Perhaps Prokudin-Gorsky's best-known work from the time is the only color portrait of Leo Tolstoy, which was then reproduced in various publications and printed for framing and on postcards. The fame from this photo and his earlier photos of Russia's nature and monuments earned him invitations to show his work to the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia, Empress Maria Feodorovna, and, eventually, the Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family in 1909. The Tsar enjoyed the demonstration, and, with his blessing, Prokudin-Gorsky got the permission and funding to document Russia in color. In the course of 10 years, he was to make a collection of 10,000 photos. Prokudin-Gorsky considered the project his life's work and continued his photographic journeys through Russia until after the October Revolution. He was appointed to a new professorship under the new regime, but he left the country in August 1918. He still pursued scientific work in color photography, published papers in English photography journals and, together with his colleague S. O. Maksimovich, obtained patents in Germany, England, France and Italy.

Prokudin-Gorsky's own research yielded patents for producing color film slides and for projecting color motion pictures. His process used a camera that took a series of three monochrome pictures in sequence, each through a different-colored filter. By projecting all three monochrome pictures using correctly colored light, it was possible to reconstruct the original color scene. Any stray movement within the camera's field of view showed up in the prints as multiple "ghosted" images, since the red, green and blue images were taken of the subject at slightly different times.

The exposure time of the frames is likely to have varied, even if the developed negatives were later on similar glass plates. In a letter to Leo Tolstoy requesting a photo session, Prokudin-Gorsky described each photo as taking one to three seconds, but, when recollecting his time with Tolstoy, he described a six-second exposure on a sunny day. Blaise Agüera y Arcas estimated the exposure of a 1909 photo taken in broad daylight to have had combined exposures of over a minute, using the movement of the moon as comparison.

Though color prints of the photos were difficult to make at the time and slide show lectures consumed much of the time he used to demonstrate his work, his studio worked in publishing prints of the photos in journals, books, postcards and large photogravures. Many of the original prints from his publishing studio have survived to this day.

Around 1905, Prokudin-Gorsky envisioned and formulated a plan to use the emerging technological advances that had been made in color photography to document the Russian Empire systematically. Through such an ambitious project, his ultimate goal was to educate the schoolchildren of Russia with his "optical color projections" of the vast and diverse history, culture, and modernization of the empire.

Outfitted with a specially equipped railroad-car darkroom provided by Tsar Nicholas II and in possession of two permits that granted him access to restricted areas and cooperation from the empire's bureaucracy, Prokudin-Gorsky documented the Russian Empire around 1909 through 1915. He conducted many illustrated lectures of his work. His photographs offer a vivid portrait of a lost world—the Russian Empire on the eve of World War I and the coming Russian Revolution. His subjects ranged from the medieval churches and monasteries of old Russia, to the railroads and factories of an emerging industrial power, to the daily life and work of Russia's diverse population.

It has been estimated from Prokudin-Gorsky's personal inventory that before leaving Russia, he had about 3500 negatives. Upon leaving the country and exporting all his photographic material, about half of the photos were confiscated by Russian authorities for containing material that was strategically sensitive for war-time Russia. According to Prokudin-Gorsky's notes, the photos left behind were not of interest to the general public. Some of Prokudin-Gorsky's negatives were given away, and some he hid on his departure. Outside the Library of Congress collection, none has yet been found.

By Prokudin-Gorsky's death, the tsar and his family had long since been executed during the Russian Revolution, and Communist rule had been established over what was once the Russian Empire. The surviving boxes of photo albums and fragile glass plates the negatives were recorded on were finally stored in the basement of a Parisian apartment building, and the family was worried about them getting damaged. The United States Library of Congress purchased the material from Prokudin-Gorsky's heirs in 1948 for $3500–$5000 on the initiative of a researcher inquiring into their whereabouts. The library counted 1902 negatives and 710 album prints without corresponding negatives in the collection.

Due to the difficulty in reproducing prints of sufficient quality from the negatives, only some hundred were used for exhibits, books and scholarly articles after the Library of Congress acquired them. The best-known is perhaps the 1980 coffee table book Photographs for the Tsar: The Pioneering Color Photography of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II, where the photos were combined from black-and-white prints of the negatives. It was only with the advent of digital image processing that multiple images could be satisfactorily combined into one. The Library of Congress undertook a project in 2000 to make digital scans of all the photographic material received from Prokudin-Gorsky's heirs and contracted with the photographer Walter Frankhauser to combine the monochrome negatives into color images. He created 122 color renderings using a method he called digichromatography and commented that each image took him around six to seven hours to align, clean and color-correct. In 2001, the Library of Congress produced an exhibition from these, The Empire That Was Russia: The Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record Recreated. The photographs have since been the subject of many other exhibitions in the area where Prokudin-Gorsky took his photos.

In 2004, the Library of Congress contracted with computer scientist Blaise Agüera y Arcas to produce an automated color composite of each of the 1902 negatives from the high-resolution digital images of the glass-plate negatives. He applied algorithms to compensate for the differences between the exposures and prepared color composites of all the negatives in the collection. As the library offers the high-resolution images of the negatives freely on the Internet, many others have since created their own color representations of the photos,and they have become a favourite testbed for computer scientists.A century after Prokudin-Gorsky explained his ambitions to the tsar, people all around the world are finally able to view his work, fulfilling his goal of showing everyone the glory of the Russian Empire.


a little bit about Russia

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Gennadii Bodrov

Gennadii Bodrov( 17 May 1957- 14 February 1999) - Russian photographer.

Vladimir Rolov

Pavel Krivcov

Russian photographer -Pavel Krivcov, one o the greatest example of documentary photography.

Russian animation: Aleksandr Petrov

Aleksandr Petrov is a creator of animated films who lives in Yaroslavl. After making his first animations there, he was invited in Canada where he adapted Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea: he got with this movie the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. He returned then to Yaroslavl where he continues his work.

He uses in his creations a technique that is mastered only by a handful of animators in the world: pastel oil painting on glass. He uses his fingers to paint, reserving the brush only for final strokes, and he creates the images on multiple glasses (a level for the landscape, another level for the personages). To allow the superposition of glass sheets, he uses slow-drying oils that allow the passing of light. All this gives depth to the resulting images. In order to create the movement (the animation) he works successively on the same glass, removing the object or the personage and recreating it slightly shifted. It is a painful process, but the result is of astonishing beauty.

I will come back with some of his short films, here I give you a video where he explains the making of his latest production, My Love.

Boris Ignatovich

Boris Ignatovich was a Constructivist artist, one of the pioneers of Soviet photo. He was great in using tilted aerial perspectives and extreme foreshortening.

Like most of the Constructivists, Ignatovich was an enthusiast Communist and depicted the radical changes that took place after the Bolshevic Revolution.

Only his photographs were witnessing such a huge talent, with their unexpected angles, their choices for framing, the view they offer, that he began to be considered too non-conformist, too far from the orthodoxy of the Socialist Realism; he was even expelled for a period from the Communist Party.

Boris Ignatovich, born in Lutsk, Ukraine in 1899, was a Soviet photographer and a member of the Russian avant-garde movement. Ignatovich began his career in 1918, first working as a journalist and a newspaper editor before taking up photography in 1923. In the early 1920s he worked for a number of publications, most notably, Bednota (Poverty), Krasnaya Niva (Red Field) and Ogonyok. Ignatovich's first photographic success was a documentary series about villagers in the Ramenskoe’s Workers’ settlement, which coincided with the first 5-year plan after Stalin's victory. Ignatovich tried to alter the traditional format of documentary photography by using very low and very high unconventional angles, developing new perspectives, and including birds-eye constructions, which rendered the landscape as an abstract composition. In 1926 Ignatovich participated at the exhibition of the Association of Moscow Photo-Correspondents, and later became one of its leaders. In 1927, he photographed power plants and factories for Bednota and developed close association with Alexander Rodchenko, as they photographed for Dajosch together. Ignatovich’s famous photo stories also included the first American tractors in the USSR and aerial photographs of Leningrad and Moscow. In 1928, Ignatovich participated in the exhibition 10 Years of Soviet Photography, in Moscow and Leningrad, which was organized by the State Academy of Artistic Sciences. Due to his companionship with Rodchenko, Ignatovich was greatly influenced by his style and unconventional techniques. Both became members of the distinguished Oktiabr, the October group, which was a union of artists, architects, film directors, and photographers. In February of 1930, a photographic section of the October group was organized. Rodchenko was the head of the section and wrote its program. Other members include Dmitrii Debabov; Boris, Ol'ga, and Elizaveta Ignatovich; Vladimir Griuntal'; Roman Karmen; Eleazar Langman; Moriakin; Abram Shterenberg; and Vitalii Zhemchuzhnyi. The October group, whose styles favored fragmentary techniques and the distortion of images in an avant-garde manner, captured the idea of a world in dynamic form and rhythms.

First general October exhibition opened at Gorky Park, a park of culture and rest named after Gorky in Moscow. The photography section, organized by Rodchenko and Stepanova, includes the magazine Radioslushatel, designed by Stepanova and illustrated with photographs by Griuntal, Ignatovich, and Rodchenko. When Rodchenko was expelled from the October group for his formalist photography, Ignatovich took over as head of the photographic section of the group until the group was dissolved in 1932 by governmental decree. Apart from October, Ignatovich worked on documentary films from 1930 to 1932. As a movie cameraman, Ignatovich worked on the first sound film, Olympiada of the Arts. After 1932 he began to pioneer ideas such as the theory of collectivism in photojournalism at the Soyuzfoto agency where he developed specific rules and laws of photography, so much so that the photographers working under him were obliged to follow and jointly credit their work to Ignatovich by signing their photographs “Ignatovich Brigade.” Ignatovich participated in1935 Exhibition of the Work of the Masters of Soviet Photography as well as the All-Union Exhibition of Soviet photography at the State Pushkin Museum in 1937. During the 1930s, Ignatovich also contributed photographs to the USSR In Construction, and in 1941, worked as a war photo correspondent on the front. After the War, Ignatovich concentrated on landscape and portraiture, experimenting with the use of symbols, picture captions, and ideas of collectivism, particularly at the Soyuzfoto agency where he continued to work as a photojournalist until he died in 1976.

Alexander Rodchenko

Aleksandr Mikhailovich Rodchenko. Russian artist, sculptor, photographer. One of the founders of constructivism and Russian design. Rodchenko was married to the artist Varvara Stepanova.

Rodchenko was one of the most versatile Constructivist and Productivist artists to emerge after the Russian Revolution. He worked as a painter and graphic designer before turning to photomontage and photography. His photography was socially engaged, formally innovative, and opposed to a painterly aesthetic. Concerned with the need for analytical-documentary photo series, he often shot his subjects from odd angles - usually high above or below - to shock the viewer and to postpone recognition. He wrote: "One has to take several different shots of a subject, from different points of view and in different situations, as if one examined it in the round rather than looked through the same key-hole again and again."

Alexander Rodchenko was one of the most versatile artists in the Russia of the twenties and thirties. Between 1910 and 1914 he studied under Nikolai Feshin and Georgia Medvedev at the Arts College of Kagan, where he met his future wife Varvara Stepanova. In 1914 he moved to Moscow and attended the Stroganov School of the Arts. There Rodchenko met Casimir Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin, and during the years that followed he evolved into one of the leading artists of the Russian avant-garde. He worked as a sculptor, painter, and graphic artist, designed posters for movie theaters, businesses and factories, and designed book covers and furniture. In 1921 his triptych Pure Colors: Red, Yellow, Blue was a masterpiece of absolute painting.

Between 1922 and 1924 Rodchenko turned increasingly to photomontages as related to poster art and book design. Especially famous were his illustrations of Vladimir Mayakovski's poetry Pro eto (About This), in which that poet proclaims his love for Cilia Brik. In his montages Rodchenko tried to create a visual image of Mayakovski's verses, thereby creating a unique connection between photomontage and constructivistic form. As he did in his other, earlier montages, Rodchenko used existing photographic originals in Proeto i.e. not photographs he produced himself. Only in 1924, when he was less and less able to find suitable picture material for his montages, did Rodchenko reach for the camera, at last recognizing photography as the artistic medium of his era. Because pictures can be taken with a camera from every position, photography, in Rodchenko's opinion, corresponded to the active eye of man. Therefore, photography was predestined to render, in a representative manner, the confusing impressions to which modern big city dwellers are exposed. By using bold and unusual perspectives, he wanted to liberate photography from conventions and from the standard belly-button perspective and thus he evolved into a distinct pioneer of photographic Constructivism. In 1928 he wrote in his manifesto-like text Ways of Contemporary Photography: "In order to educate man to a new longing, everyday familiar objects must be shown to him with totally unexpected perspectives and in unexpected situations. New objects should be depicted from different sides in order to provide a complete impression of the object." In 1928 Rodchenko, who had given up painting in favor of photography in 1927, bought himself a Leica which, because of its handy format and quick operation, became his preferred tool for his work. This camera enabled him to realize to excess his ideas of unusual camera positions, severe foreshortenings of perspective, and views of surprising details. Increasingly Rodchenko's photography was dominated by the artistic element of the line. He liked to integrate elements such as grids, stairs, or overhead wires in his photographic compositions, converting them into abstract constructivistic line structures. Stairs of 1930 and Girl with Leica of 1934 are undoubtedly among the most famous photographs of this kind. in 1930 Rodchenko became a founding member of the "October" group, the most important organization for photographic and cinematographic art of that time. Between 1933 and 1941 he also worked for the journal SSSR na stroike (USSR under Construction) which he had founded together with Varvara Stepanova.

alexey titarenko

Born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in 1962, Alexey Titarenko has devoted his life’s work to depicting the atmosphere and inhabitants of his beloved city. Titarenko draws his inspiration from the music and literature he’s loved since childhood, and his long walks through the city filled with lines of tired people standing in stores, wandering through flea markets, or crowded around subway entrances. The new post-Soviet era required new forms of expression that could serve as the visual equivalents of the new social and political reality, characterized by the anxiety-laden, gloomy period of economic catastrophe following the empire’s collapse. All in all, Titarenko gives us an empathetic depiction of this transition: when old values are being discarded and new values, in the process of formation, are in doubt.

While the artist utilizes nineteenth century techniques such as prolonged exposure, he is constantly searching for new possibilities। As a result, Titarenko has developed a unique style, “metaphorical photography,” defined by the third dimension, that of time. By translating time into a purely photographic language, he exposes the frailty of human existence and reveals those precious moments in life that move our soul.


We are a collective of artists from CIS, otherwise known as the former USSR, who have come together to make work about Russia and it’s identity in the contemporary world. All the artists involved make works about different aspects of the countries culture. Although much of it is aimed more at the Russian mentality it is our common goal to find a language to speak to the international community in terms they can understand. We believe that the rest of the world is not much aware of what is happening in Russia except for stereotypes like the communist past and the current questionable politics.

Each artist is making their own personal work which will then become part of a website that we will be using as a sort of catalogue to send out to other artists who potentially want to get involved with what we are trying to accomplish. In the future we are planning on having an exhibition to showcase all the work that we have gathered from artists coming from various disciplines.

There are numerous reasons for why we believe in our project. Firstly we are all young artists and we want to work with other people interested in the same subject, to help each other out and learn from each other. Secondly, it is no secret that there are many problems in Russia. London has given us an opportunity to step back in a sense and reevaluate the situation from a different point of view. We are not saying that by making art about problems we are going to change everything, but we might raise questions and get the viewers thinking and talking about the issues. Finally the third reason is that we strongly believe that this project is economically viable, and that there is a market for it. With the right ideas and marketing we will be able to get our work out to a larger audience.