Temples, churches, monasteries. History through architecture.

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about the project Vladimir Prokofiev


VLADIMIR PROKOFIEV, founder of the project, author of photographic material and articles presented on the site. Photography deals with most of his adult life. Previously, it was just amateurism, and for some time it turned into a favorite amateurishness. In recent years, fond of filming temple architecture.

Born in 1953 in Ulyanovsk. Baptized in Orthodoxy. By education - a programmer, worked for a long time in this capacity. Lived in Ulyanovsk, Kirov (Vyatka), since 2000 in Moscow. Married, three adult sons.

From his youth he traveled for many years, doing mountain tourism. At first, the subject of photography was mountain landscapes - the Caucasus, Tan-Shan, Pamir, Pamir-Alay. And after the sporting career ended, pulled to remove the temples.

Throughout all the years of temple filming, a lot of historical, architectural and Orthodox literature was worked out, which influenced photographic material.

Since 2004, a number of solo exhibitions have been held: in Kirov, Moscow and Harbin (China).

From the author
I would like to add a little bit of myself - from where, what and how. In fact, I was never seriously engaged in photography. Photographed for a long time, it is - yes. But mostly only by virtue of necessity, because sports mountain tourism implied the need to issue reports on the routes traveled, which required the availability of photographs. I loved to take pictures, but I seriously never had enough time for this, because a sports trip is a constant time trouble. You are completely dependent on the weather and terrain and just indulge in a camera, especially on difficult routes, just once.

The background to the birth of this photo archive is banal. The campaigns are over, life has dramatically acquired gray shades of everyday life ... Several years ago I got a digital camera in my hands and in search of an object to satisfy my aesthetic feeling, my eyes focused on churches. It was available and it was new to me, because earlier I simply did not notice them. At first, I was fascinated by the very process of searching for interesting objects and angles, but as the material accumulated, trying to systematize it somehow, I began to notice similarities and differences in their forms and questions began to arise - why did three onions in one church, five, but on that only one chapter, but in the form of a helmet?

So gradually I began to dive into the world of new symbols for me - the world of religious architecture. At first, I did not distinguish the Catholic church from the Orthodox church - when looking at them there was only a general understanding that both are related to religion. I had to do religious studies and suddenly it turned out that the Christian religion, firstly, grew out of Judaism, that is, the national religion of the Jews, and secondly, it does not exist in its pure form. It was a paradox. It turned out that, despite the fact that Christianity is based on the same Book - the Bible, its interpretation, that is, giving words meaning, has generated throughout the centuries both Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism, and many more branches, trends and heresies. And all of them are religions of Revelation, that is, the Messages transmitted to people through some chosen ones - through the so-called Prophets. Judaism - through Moses, Christianity - through Jesus Christ, Islam - through Mahomet. At the same time, the people themselves, with the exception of Jesus Christ, seem to have no relation to these messages - they were only transmitters of certain attitudes, certain dogmas, and why these religions fall into the Dogmatic category, unlike, say, the Pure Experience religions, to which These include Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism.

By Pure Experience, I mean "mystical experience", which includes primarily transpersonal experiences, that is, "experiences of direct communication, union or merging with the Divine, impersonal Absolute, or other type of primordial being. This experience is only achieved in very specific altered states of consciousness. ” In this case, instead of the term mystical experience, it would be better to use the Sanskrit word “yoga”, which is already beginning to take on a tinge of the notion of a scientific meta-language. So, they distinguish “Taoist yoga”, “Muslim yoga” - Sufism, “Christian yoga” - hesychasm, and finally, “integral yoga” of Sri Aurobindo. As a rule, one or another psychotechnique was the method of achieving certain deep-seated transpersonal states. As a result, it turns out that not only religions of pure experience, but also dogmatic ones originate precisely from the experience of transpersonal experiences. What is interesting, at this stage of the existence of mankind, there are more and more cases of contact with the beyond without using any psychotechnique. However, I will not go into this topic, because I myself am quite earthly and have no experience of transpersonal experiences, or any contacts with otherworldly forces.

I just wanted to note that in religious studies there are two approaches to the study of the phenomenon of Religion - sociological and psychological. Thanks to the “sociological approach”, the functions of religious beliefs and religious institutions in various societies and in different historical epochs became clear, the social meaning of numerous cults and rituals became clear, but only the “psychological approach” can reveal the fundamental principles of any religion.

Behind the purely external side of the subject, whether it is the architectural image of the Temple or the Word from the Bible, there can be a lot of meanings that can vary over time. The fact that the Temple in any religion is primarily a symbol, I think no one doubts. Compared with the simplest symbols such as the same cross, circle, and so on, which themselves can be loaded with a mass of meanings, the temple is an encyclopedia of symbols and in this sense represents the quintessence of the picture of the world of its creators. But this, so to speak, is its deep essence, but even behind the simple fact of its existence there is a whole world, including many faces and events associated with it, that is, it is behind the History of people, the History of states, and in the end - the History of civilizations.

Now, as for the shape of the temples of different religions. The form is deeply symbolic and derives from meanings that are of the same type for most of humanity. They grow out of mythology and are strongly anthropologically colored. In the future, they are subject to speculative adjustments, but essentially, by and large, do not change. If we take into account that the development of both European and Russian civilizations was determined, on the one hand, by the development of religious beliefs, that is, spiritual quest, and on the other, by the development of natural and humanitarian knowledge, then the changes in the form of temples that they have undergone over the past one and a half thousand years. In European civilization, as the most dynamic, it is clearly expressed in the styles - Romanik, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Classic, eclectic, modern ...

Russian architecture as a whole followed in the footsteps of European, although sometimes with some delay and retreats. Following in line with the European tradition was also determined by the fact that architects were often invited from Europe, with the exception of the earliest period when Byzantine Greeks were the trendsetters in Russia.

Muslim architecture is also symbolic through and through and has its own genesis. As for the Far Eastern civilizations, be it Indian or Chinese, self-enclosed, then, in my opinion, there is no genesis and development of architectural forms there, for the Meanings are unshakable. What is interesting in the framework of these very Meanings, different for different Civilizations, the development of the latter follows the same path. But this is already a political philosophy - the most important component of the modern world ...

Summing up, we can say that although each individual temple is unique, but, as a rule, its form, composition and decor, on the one hand, is determined by the canon and tradition, and on the other, it is in line with the dominant style, which is determined by the current level of ideas about the world ( including religious) of this society.

I would like to say that the goals and objectives of this site were conceived as educational and aesthetic ... But they remained the same, although it was easier to name it, like "By cities and villages". In general, the process of its creation is important and interesting for me - it allows you to systematize, structure and show a lot of material that helps to understand the life around you and yourself.

When processing the material there are new thoughts, new ideas and I want to live. So far I have focused on the architecture of religious buildings of Orthodoxy, covering the thousand-year period of its development in Russia. And since, starting from the 17th century, people from other religions began to be included in the Russian Empire, we will partly touch on the architecture of Catholicism, Protestant, Muslim, Judaism and Buddhism to the extent that the existing photographic material allows it. In particular, in the past two years, material has appeared on Ukraine and Armenia.

And further. For some time now I have been addicted to making musical slide films, they are also video clips, based on the raw materials that the open-air gave me. It opened up vast horizons for creativity, and this is probably what I like most of all. Some may notice that sometimes there is clearly not enough material to display the stated topic. This is because I did not pursue any special goals, but simply filmed what I saw and what attracted me. And already during the processing of the material for the submission, I myself see that here it would be necessary to do something else, but alas ... Maybe sometime ... I am ready to participate in such projects and expeditions with those interested ...