Graven Images: Stars and Crosses project published by The Calvert Journal

Stars and Crosses, my project on the visual culture of cemeteries in Russia and Ukraine, has been featured on The Calvert Journal, an online magazine of art and culture from Russia.

Novodevichy cemetery, Moscow, Russia, January 2014.

Novodevichy cemetery, Moscow, Russia, January 2014.

From the article:

London-based photographer Christopher Leigh started photographing Russian and Ukrainian cemeteries in 2007. At first his obsession was purely visual. "I was first struck by the visual nature of the memorials: the rather sad portraits that feature on many of them; the mixture of Soviet and religious motifs; the monumentality of the granite and marble used to sculpt the graves," explains Leigh. But as he kept exploring the cemetery grounds he realised that he was capturing a blueprint of values in a rapidly changing society, a strange mixture of traces from private and public lives: Orthodox crosses sit next to communist stars, military regalia and personal photos. "I particularly like the military man in Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery who has a battery of Katyusha rockets mounted above him. The memorial to Boris Yeltsin — a giant ruffled Russian flag of stone and mosaic tiles — is also a favourite." Leigh's photos are full of hidden references, from religious iconography to 20th-century official portraiture, but on a deeper level they always evoke a sense of perfect stillness. "In cities like Moscow, cemeteries are one of the few places you can go for peace and quiet," says Leigh. "I think I will always be drawn back for that reason."