I’m Stood on Red Square waiting for the band to arrive. From the foot of St Basil’s Cathedral I can see across the Moskva River and the city beyond it slowly disappearing behind an approaching wall of falling snow. By the time their taxi arrives the snow is lashing Red Square, the horizon line is a total whiteout and my brief to shoot the band strolling through the city suddenly feels slightly compromised.
I was only ever going to have time to see a tiny part of Moscow. I brought few expectations with me, but references to Soviet era Russia, to that particular Goliath, have mostly gone from the central part of the city we walk and have made way for purveyors of trinkets; gems dipped in gold, dipped in platinum, dipped in the blood of long extinct rare breeds, then flown around Jupiter (the gaudiest planet) and presented to you in a mink hoodie, a Limited Edition of only 900,000. It’s a bit like Bond Street, only colder.
“They’re solemn in their wealth
We’re high in our poverty
We see the things they’ll never see.”
On Red Square I’m looking at a tower of scaffolding. A rectangular skeleton workmen are dismantling. The bones of a giant replica Louis Vuitton trunk that has been stood casting a shadow across Lenin’s tomb in recent weeks. A massive advert, squaring up to St Basil’s, which itself, unexpectedly, looks like it was made from an MFI flat pack circa 1987. My initial concern that the weight of the winter might cause its chipboard and laminate structure to sag fades as we wander off down Nikolskaya Ul.
I spent years reading about Czarist Russia, what the USSR was and wanted to be, that grubby point where communism and fascism overlapped and what Russia became, the financial syphoning, the commercial land grab. It’s complex modernity. And now, here I am and I realise, somedays, it’s better to just stand back and watch the snow fall.