Frank Herfort

"After seven years I struck camp in Hamburg and traveled to Moscow. It was time to take new paths and explore new worlds. So I followed my intuition and traveled through the “Gate to the World” to the Russian capital. Europe’s largest city had always fascinated me, even though I had not yet seen it. Images of Soviet soldiers with their tanks in the streets, Pioneer scarves in the classroom, roll calls in front of the school building, and my mother’s stories of trips to Lake Baikal had left a considerable impression on my childhood. So I set out to discover with my own eyes the largest country in the world.

In the meanwhile, politics represented somewhat different ideals and objectives, and one midnight I arrived in the metropolis of the new Russia with the temperature at zero Fahrenheit.

From the start I was fascinated by the oversized, very colorful, and unusually shaped high-rises, which did not conform at all to the image in my mind. Yet somehow I had already realized that Russia would presumably not be all naked Olgas and Svetlanas, policemen with Kalashnikovs, brown bears with vodka glasses, crumbling nuclear power plants near Kiev, and Russian dolls.

On my extended tours through the urban region of Moscow I repeatedly encountered these particular high-rises, which seemed very exotic to me since I had never seen them before. At first I wasn’t sure whether I liked these skyscrapers, but the more of them I saw, the more I enjoyed the playful way they simply combined eras such as classicism, Stalinism, the avant-garde, and a touch of Lego. I found it refreshing to see different buildings that did not follow the call of Western architecture and that offered a decorated façade now and again instead of glass. These buildings, symbols of the new Russia, stand for this lightness of being, the forgetting of old times, and finding a new one.


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