The Essence - PhMuseum

The Essence

Denis Tarasov

2013

The extravagant tombstones that lay untouched in cities like Yekaterinburg, Russia and Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine stand as monuments to the tumultuous period, Its been nearly two decades since the so-called Mafia Wars began in Russia and its neighboring states.

"Essence," showcases the bizarre phenomenon of modern culture, one that celebrates material wealth in the face of death.

In the nineties, the graves of criminal authorities began to have large and expensive tombstones -- at a height of about three meters and engraved with a full-length portrait and an expensive car in the background. This was done primarily to stand out and surpass all the dead in the cemetery, as well as the people that try to outdo everyone in life.

These gravestones are not unique occurrences. They exist in major cities across Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and other former Soviet countries, usually concentrated in one area within a cemetery -- an exclusive (and expensive) space that seems too eerily like an eternal VIP resting place. While most of the tombs belong to gangsters, the trend was upheld by heads of Roma and Armenian families, as well as other wealthy people with a flair for a dramatic afterlife.

Despite the fact that they are all made in the same style, they still differ from each other, each has some peculiarity, some distinguishing feature, something that is for me a kind of "punctum". A "punctum" can serve as more than just the figure on the gravestone. It can be the scenery on it, the other surrounding gravestones or nearby shrubs or flowers.

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