Friday, March 19, 2010

Folk Architecture

This kind of "built place" has many layers of history and diverse roots. Scattered throughout Alaska are remnants of the hand-hewn Russian Orthodox churches that were built over 100 years ago by Russian Missionaries, following the traditions of their old country. The picture above is St. Nicholas church, which is also part of the Athabascan Indian Cemetery that's filled with their small, colorful "spirit houses". This is how colonial settlement fuses with local culture, as has gone on around the world throughout history with religious missionary expansion.

The roots of these old log churches are found in North Russia, which have been captured in a study by professional photographer Richard Davies, who discovered a postcard series of unique fairy-tale style wooden churches and decided to undertake this project. The result is Wooden Churches, a series of beautiful photographs of these forgotten landmarks.

The wooden church architecture of Russia is unique. Built during the 18th and 19th Centuries, these iconic structures have weathered a storm of changes ever since, ranging from harsh winters to the churches' abandonment during the years of Soviet Communism. Many of the structures today remain in a state of tragic disrepair, damaged by vandals, neglect and the constant barrage of the weather.

Davies' photo collection perfectly captures the beauty and neglect of these amazing structures. The barren Russian landscapes, the sense of decay and the intricate architecture will make viewers feel like they've stumbled upon the remains of a fantasy civilization. The photos are a bid for preserving these amazing landmarks before they crumble to dust.

Also check out this great blog, Jilli's subarctic journal, Up in Alaska.