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Ethical question

Ekaterina Vasilyeva | Monastic island Konevets

[I] decided to go to the Konevets island because it was interesting for me to compare religious services in the city and service in some more solitary place. I wanted to know how do people live on an island and what is the monastery life. Taking into account that I am pretty far from a religious person, this was for me a very important experience. I visited that place two years in succession.
It is important to know that the Island monasteries occupy the special place in a cultural landscape and spiritually­religious life of Russian North. By the end of the XVII century there were at least nine island monasteries in deep territories of North.
And business is not only in that. Some of them got an all ­Russian fame, became prominent due to the beauty architectural ensembles and place of attraction of numerous pilgrims. Island it is the special territory plucked­broken out of daily occurrence of life where it is possible to see ideal terms for a spiritual concentration a sort of space of transforming and truth.

Gradually I knew the history of the monastery. The Island is very small, only 5 x 2 kilometers, and located in 5 kilometers from the mainland. In the Middle ages at the island there was a heathen temple of the Finnish tribes that especially honored an enormous boulder in form skull of horse weighing more than 750 tons.
This boulder is known as Horse­ Stone and it gave the name to the island.
Surprisingly but Konevets became for me somewhat by an only place where all is truly. There
is a presence undoubtedly felt of a higher force. In a difference from a city here there are no temptations of career and time on useless talks. People that live at the island are so remote from the world that they do not have a requirement of a huge society and usual for us things. For them it all too mundane and vain, and they try from all of it to be barriered. They have their own world and for them it is nearer.

All day long was densely busy at each the obedience. To chop trees, saw firewood, stove bread (I got the participation in it), to grow vegetable in a garden, etc. That is the island monastery lives due to its own economy and to pilgrims. Some island monasteries not far from St ­ Petersburg (such as Valaam, for example) look richer, pompous, they are transformed into sort of the family attraction for tourists. On their background the Konevets monastery looks very poor outwardly, but undoubtedly richer spiritually.

Q&A with Ekaterina Vasilyeva

Photography is:

Photography gives you a chance to meet again with the world around you. The main arm of the photographer is his curiosity.
Curiosity creates a collision and hence the desired contact. By the analysis of my own and others pictures I am more and more convincing how important is the closeness to your shooting objects, how important is the inner monologue with nature or a dialogue with the person portraying by you. So that it could touch the unprepared viewer.

Photography and writing:

By profession I am a librarian-bibliographer. Maybe that is why before and during taking pictures I used to collect information on the location of my research, make the necessary notes, read some books and watch movies.
Also I’m looking for words – nouns which will help me to focus and see things I needed.
These remarks being edited later are becoming my accompanying text to the story – a kind of additional bridge between the viewer and myself.

Who left the biggest impression on you? 

Inspiration beside the photographers (eg the VU agency, Institute agency) are serving film directors (eg Bergman, Wenders, Lynch), artists (eg Turner, Frederick), books on art and philosophy.

Tell us a little about yourself

I enjoy working at the intersection of art and documentary photography. Telling the story of a real place, city or country I like to add to the basis a myth or legend, and perhaps something that happened only in my imagination. I think that the photographer has to have something from a magician.

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Ekaterina Vasilyeva

Ekaterina Vasilyeva (www.ekaterinavasilyeva.ru) is a russian photographer, working at the intersection of the genre, documentary and art photography. More »

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