During the Orthodox Holy Week in 2009, I took a spontaneous pilgrimage of sorts to Russia. Moscow now is an extraordinary place to visit, so soon after the fall of the Soviet Union. Her dramatic renewal of religious expression awkwardly mingles with a generation that never knew God. Standing as you do during Orthodox worship, I could find to my left a woman covered in traditional lace head-dress, then to my right a leather-jacketed man with bloodshot eyes reeking from a binge-drunken night. Russian Orthodoxy feels all at once like the most solemnly antiquated religion in the world, yet a fresh sort of witness to this society suddenly colliding with Western appetites.
Because digital video so recently became a guerilla possibility in today's Russia that remains utterly Kremlin, I was able to shoot lush high-definition 1080p footage even within Moscow's fortress, her Red Square, and anywhere else a military guard did not catch me stabilizing the camera (and when I got caught, I moved along quickly). Although this short film is pulled from hours of footage that I gathered for a larger work-in-progress called "Financial Capital," on this past Tuesday evening of 2010's Western Holy Week, I threw together this ambient meditation on the feelings and perceptions swarming in me during my visit. Even though editing often involves a bag of tricks including audio substitution, the last two sound cues are in sync from the field, of matins in a Red Square church, and the pealing bells that begin the all-night vigil from the Cathedral of Christ the Savior - recently rebuilt in less than a decade, years after the Revolution when Stalin blasted it into rubble.
[Note that this plays by default in 1080p high-definition as your Internet speed may permit, yet you may need to pause and wait while the footage buffers, or turn off high-definition altogether. A button that switches to full-screen viewing is at the bottom right of the frame.]