Crime and Punishment in the Moscow Metro

The Dostoyevskaya station on Moscow Metro line 10 has a very interesting story. The construction of the station started in the 1990s though soon it was halted due to insufficient funding. Building resumed only in 2007 when money flow resumed and right and left rail tunnels were built, but then in April 2009 the lack of funds forced the Moscow Metro authorities to delay the station’s opening to May 2010 and then again to June 2010.

When it finally did open, the interior decor caused a lot of debate. The station is, as the name implies, dedicated to the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky (because there is a nearby street by the same name) The artist(s) in charge of the internal decoration (and I could find no information on who exactly that was, either!) took very direct inspiration from the writer’s work and, as a result there are two scenes of violence (homicide and suicide) depicted on the station walls as part of the illustration of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Demons and The Brothers Karamazov.

There are two scenes of violence (homicide and suicide) depicted on the station walls as an illustration of Dostoyevsky’s novels.

A lot of people opposed this choice, as they felt it was unnecessary and it could “inspire” people to commit acts of violence, against self or against other, in the station, turning it into a “suicide spot”, for example. But on the other hand this neighbourhood in Moscow had already waited for the opening of this metro station for well over 10 years and any further delay, due to a change of the marble wall, was deemed unacceptable.

So today these marble murals stand, but to everyone’s relief the critics’ fears proved unfounded and nothing particularly bad has ever happened in the station. At the station entrance there is also a large marble mural of the writer himself, apparently keeping both eyes open all the time so that nothing happens in his metro station.

The stern gaze of Dovstoyesky “greets” the passengers at the entrance of the Dovstoyeskaya metro station

Photo tip! There are basically two ways to go about photographing transit places. One is to patiently wait for a moment without people and take a picture like the one of Dovstoyesky’s mural in this post, to accentuate the architectural (or artistic) aspect of what you are photographing, devoid of any distraction. The other option, which I chose for the feature image of this post, is to include the human presence, to both give a sense of scale and to imply that the place is actually in use and not abandoned. In the latter case my tip is to try to use a wide angle lens, so that you can shoot with a longer shutter speed (1/12th of a second in this case) without the need for a tripod (which is often either  forbidden or highly impractical in crowded places where people move fast). This gives you the added bonus of keeping everything that is still nice and sharp, while giving some motion blur to the people, to convey a sense of movement and of contrast between what is stationary and what is not.

Would you like to take part in a photo walk or in a photo tour in Moscow, Saint Petersburg or any other city in Russia, or to have one organised just for you? If so, do get in touch and we’ll be happy to create an unforgettable, tailor-made experience for you!


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