Frederick Abrams

The Underground Cathedral

Under Lenin’s tomb

On the outskirts of Red Square in December of 1991 I photographed
a funeral march of elderly protesters of the new free market reforms carrying wreaths of flowers and portraits of Stalin. It was during my brief nine day visit that all of the photography of Under Lenin’s Tomb was taken and, most fatefully, my arrival occurred on the very day that the U. S. S. R. was officially disbanded. Down below lie both Lenin and perhaps the most
exquisite and elaborately decorated metro underground palace on our
planet transporting its impoverished populace in tin can train cars.

Under Lenin’s Tomb contrasts these images with a few documentary film
clips several decades old including Stalin’s inaugural celebration of the
system’s opening as well as recent video footage from the cities of
Budapest, Prague, Warsaw and Berlin. Meanwhile, throughout the chapter’s
heavy techno-classical musical arrangement, the passengers both young and old of the recently liberated satellite systems are haunted by the recurring announcements of Moscow’s underground stations.

Chapter Eight conveys something of the mixture of past, present and future which remain so intimately intermingled in this radically changing part of the world yet so steeped in its dark history.

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