Andy Freeberg takes photographs of the women who watch over the artwork at Russian Art Museums. Often the women seem to emulate the artwork themselves. Whether this is controlled by Freeberg for his portraits or a natural phenomenon is unclear, but it adds an extra layer of poetry to the photographs. In one, a woman sits beside a case of heads, and her own expression mimics that of the 2nd century mummies beside her. In another, the blue of the woman’s shirt is identical to the patter in the painting above her. The women speak about their attachments to the paintings they guard, and whether it is conscious or not, it would appear the artwork has a deep impact on them.
In the art museums of Russia, women sit in the galleries and guard the collections. When you look at the paintings and sculptures, the presence of the women becomes an inherent part of viewing the artwork itself. I found the guards as intriguing to observe as the pieces they watch over. In conversation they told me how much they like being among Russia’s great art. A woman in Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery Museum said she often returns there on her day off to sit in front of a painting that reminds her of her childhood home. Another guard travels three hours each day to work, since at home she would just sit on her porch and complain about her illnesses, “as old women do.” She would rather be at the museum enjoying the people watching, surrounded by the history of her country.
(Via I Need a Guide)