Speaker by Various Artists


Russian Underground part 2

by Clinton Logan

"Photography is not allowed" barked a policeman. 

Da, foto v poryadke! I respond in clunky Russian.



I'd spent three days in Moscow's metro system and this was the tenth time I'd been told off. Arguing with Russian officials isn't something I'd recommend but I'd researched the rules and was becoming increasingly belligerent about my rights as a photographer. When I get fixated on a goal I can get a bit freakish about it.

Capturing these images took a bit of perseverance as the Moscow police were fairly militant about the use of camera gear in the metro. Most were okay with it, but some maintained a stance based on an outdated holdover from the Soviet era. Back then photographing the metro (and other strategic installations) was considered an act of espionage. Not everyone got the memo, as photography is now completely legal. 

The use of a tripod was proving problematic as it transformed my activities into a "professional" shoot which still requires a permit. The low light mandated its use, so I developed a strategy where I'd frame the shot, dial in the camera settings, and then at the last minute open the tripod and snap the image. Typically I'd capture five or six frames before a policeman would wander over and shake his finger at me.

I don't want to paint a distorted picture about the authorities here. I've observed the way they treat drunks, unlicensed vendors, buskers, and annoying hyper-focused Kiwis, and in all cases they've been incredibly polite and tolerant. 

So with that, I want to thank the Moscow Metro Authority for allowing me to complete part two of my Russian metro series. I hope you enjoy these images. It's one of the most incredible urban spaces I've had the pleasure to explore.

Антонина is off to study English. She'd like to visit NYC but still considers Moscow to be the greatest city on earth. I think she might be right. Photo: Clinton Logan

Электрозаводская (Elektrozavodskaya) metro station is named after the electric light bulb factory nearby. Fittingly the station's 318 inset lamps on the ceiling ensure it's well lit. Photo: Clinton Logan

This image was a result of lucky timing. I'd just got off at the wrong station and happened to find this woman wearing a fantastic all orange outfit that perfectly complimented the aesthetic of the space (including the train). Photo: Clinton Logan

Budget limitations do not allow modern architects to compete with the grandeur of the stations built in the 1930s and 1950s. However my local Румянцево station still forms a striking public space. Opened in 2016, it was inspired by the works of the Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian. Photo: Clinton Logan

In 2010 this metro station was opened featuring vignettes from the works of the famous Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. At the time the depictions of axe murders and gun shots to the head stirred up controversy with the locals who feared the station might become a suicide mecca for depressed Muscovites. Photo: Clinton Logan

Ploshchad Revolutsii is decorated with 76 sculptures that flank the corners of each column. Subjects include parents with children, athletes, farmers, industrial workers and soldiers. Some of the sculptures are said to bring good luck if you rub them. It's believed that rubbing the dog's nose guarantees exam success for students, while rubbing the leg of the female student will heal broken hearts. There was also a large cockerel that was polished to a shine under the hands of thousands of people over the years. I'm not sure what rubbing it is supposed to bring but it has proved very popular with the ladies and more than a few men. Photo: Clinton Logan

Арбатская (Arbatskaya) station serves both as a bomb shelter and a Metro stop. As a result it’s positioned 41 meters underground with a 250 meter long platform, the second largest in Moscow. Photo: Clinton Logan

The most bad arsed revolutionaries all wear a good home knit sweater, everyone knows that. Photo: Clinton Logan