Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Prokudin-Gorskii Collection

This morning I wish that I was somewhere else.  Perhaps at the local cafe, eating a buttermilk biscuit with egg and chorizo- but I haven't yet found the motivation to make it out of my pajamas.  Or better- I wish that I were in a small, light-filled room somewhere, with unfamiliar sounds at the window, languages that I don't understand and morning racket that doesn't make sense to me.  A bag over my shoulder, and a walk out onto cobblestone streets, perhaps, in some narrow alleyway.  Old women are frying things curbside, unidentified foods in vast black metal pans, and the buildings are a little tilted, a little handmade, a little lumpy where human fingers shaped the walls.  I will eat something greasy and hot while I am walking, wrapped in transparent oily paper by one of the old women, and I am heading for some city square, where there will be a cafe and urban sorts in eurotrash black jeans drinking espresso.  I will also drink espresso, and write, and make decisions about how I will spend my day- what castle I will see, what museum, what I will carry- just enough to have everything I need, but not so much that I am cursing my overly heavy pack by the end of the day.  Or maybe I will sit here, at this cafe, listening to the foreign languages and drinking too much coffee and watching a foreign world go by.
Nope.  I am here, and I actually have to spend the day grading, which is rather different than exploring castles.  But I will travel for just a moment- I'll send some postcards- from Russia, found in the Library of Congress archives.

Images of Russia: The Prokudin-Gorskii Collection
"The Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection features color photographic surveys of the vast Russian Empire made between ca. 1905 and 1915. Frequent subjects among the 2,607 distinct images include people, religious architecture, historic sites, industry and agriculture, public works construction, scenes along water and railway transportation routes, and views of villages and cities. An active photographer and scientist, Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook most of his ambitious color documentary project from 1909 to 1915. The Library of Congress purchased the collection from the photographer's sons in 1948."

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