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Cathedrals for the Masses: Moscow Metro by Lena Liv at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Lena Liv, Metro station in Moscow "Taganskaja" (frontal), Image on glass, light box, 96 x 182 x 20 cm.

TEL AVIV.- Lena Liv (b. Leningrad, 1952) returned to her homeland after years in Israel and Italy, and followed, in the series of photographs exhibited here, one of its heroic tales: Moscow's metro stations. With a bold, rare examining gaze she focuses on the underground halls of Moscow's impressive metro stations, built in Stalin's era as "Palaces for the Proletariat." Liv photographs mostly in the early morning, before passengers crowd the stations. Only a few, refugee-like figures are seen in this group of works. They are wrapped up in layers against the cold, tossing between wakefulness and sleep. Their clinging luggage seems to have become a part of their body. Slumped along the wide stone benches, they are like refugees from a hopeless struggle.

Lena Liv's lens exposes a paradox in the metro's heroic building work: on the one hand, the buildings were meant to contain within their monumental dimensions a human body in search of domestication; on the other hand, this is building whose far-reaching ideology sought to turn Moscow from an ancient capital to the center of world Proletariat—to sow the "seeds of the new, socialist Moscow," in the words of the journalists of the time. Above all, it seems that Lena Liv's works testify that this show architecture was the first sprouts of a city that never materialized.

Tel Aviv | Lena Liv | Tel Aviv Museum of Art | "Cathedrals for the Masses" |

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