The Escape of the Purple People Eater

Yesterday, after being ill for over a week, and completely bored for two days even though I had been steadily working through my backlog of assignments, I escaped.

Don’t worry, a keeper (healthy friend) came with me.

The Rusty Angel, with a blue chalk flower
The Rusty Angel, with a blue chalk flower

We ventured into an area of Moscow I had not been in before, to visit a park and the Sakharov Centre: a museum, library and cultural centre dedicated to ‘develop [ing] a historical consciousness of Soviet totalitarianism and the resistance to oppression; promot[ing] values of freedom, democracy, and human rights; support[ing] a robust, comprehensive, and free discussion about relevant historical issues, human rights, and humanitarian problems; and aid[ing] the creation of civil society in Russia’.

Although it was supposed to be open,the centre looked very closed  and we chickened out at trying the door. Instead we took a moment to look at the monuments. Alongside the museum stands The Rusty Angel by Leonid Berlin, a figure, slowly changing in response to the elements, still smiling. Someone had drawn a flower on her skirt in chalk, a childish display of beauty which was somehow touching.

The falling wall- Apologies for the poor photo, it was a very grey day
Butterflies on the falling wall- Apologies for the poor photo, it was a very grey day

I was aware of the centre, because hidden away with it, in this park, is a piece of the Berlin Wall, which has been in the news a lot this week because it fell 25 years ago.  We visited this bit of wall, which is covered in metal butterflies and raised on metal in a way that looks like it is about to topple over (intentionally symbolic?). I know I’m a bit of a romantic, but I find it moving, and indeed very important, that the wall has managed to find its way across the world into all sorts of cities, to serve as a quiet reminder and symbol. For me the broken wall speaks of unity through humanity, resistance against totalitarianism, love for one’s neighbour, and freedom and protest through art.

After a few moments of quiet reflection on the stunningly grey day, we decided it was time to get me back to my den.

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