In 2002, British photographer Richard Davies traveled to the remote Northern provinces of Russia to photograph its famous wooden churches. Many churches, he discovered, had been lost in the course of the 20th century: some left to rot; some destroyed by lightning; countless others by ignorance, spite and neglect.
Yet many churches survive. Despite their neglect and the wrecking of their interiors, these extraordinary structures have a spiritual presence that commands respect even in the absence of their gilded icons.
This display pairs Davies’ haunting photographs with a selection of icons such as once gleamed from the iconostasis (icon wall) of every church in the Russian North. Where dedicated specialists and enthusiasts have rescued churches from destruction, the return of the icons signals a return to life.
We thank Treasures of Imperial Russia, of Aliso Viejo CA, for the generous loan of the icons to this exhibition.