Revisiting expansive, empty Moscow.
by Andrea Valentini
Since I am a new face here at Viscera, I wanted to write about one thing that makes me really happy, which is travel.
Right before I moved out to the Bay Area from New York, I went on a 5 week trip through parts of Europe with my boyfriend. It was incredible and I suspect it will influence my work for a long time. This journey started in Moscow, Russia, where I mostly spent time with my relatives but also got to see the city again, and this time with a non-Russian by my side. My boyfriend noticed many things that were different about Moscow that I just hadn't thought about before.
The main thing we noticed in Moscow is just how large all the spaces and buildings are. Much of this effect is due to remnants of Soviet era grandiose city planning. This was quite a contrast to what we were used to since we had most recently been living just a few blocks from Times Square in New York. I used to often daydream of the Moscow Metro when I boarded the rush hour C train in Manhattan. Moscow Metro stations are huge! They are also covered in marble and elaborate stained glass mosaics, ornate wooded carvings, and giant chandeliers.
I’ve often disregarded the design of these spaces, overwhelmed by the overly ornamented elements, but this time I noticed some unique parts of the stations. Like a light fixture that looks like a molecule in a station dedicated to a chemist.
The modern art wing of the State Tretyakov Gallery was similarly huge and also almost completely devoid of visitors. I got to look at Malevich's famous "Black Square" painting without any crowding.
Of course, one of the highlights of my time back in Russia was having all the food I love. I used to live for the ice cream sold in street carts and also in the famous, old city mall. I had to have at least a cone everyday during this visit.
The "State Department Store," a giant mall built in the 1890s, where the legendary ice cream was purchased! It is also the site of many glitzy stores full of furs and expensive track suits. Very few visitors in this giant space as well, despite being adjacent to Red Square.
Here I am enjoying a small heap of Russian snacks, as well as Kompot, a boiled berry juice, at a cafeteria-style chain Restaurant called Moo-Moo (I'm not sure why it's called that).
At the end of this leg of the trip, I even conquered my fear of heights and stood on a glass floor on top of the Ostankino TV tower, which looks like a spaceship (don't they all?).
I hope this is a good glimpse into a city that's not the easiest to visit.
Next week - Copenhagen!!