a sinning man or sinner in old Russian notation


I started this project in 2006, when I went on my first several-day trip to a Cross Procession organized by the Russian Orthodox Church. Since then for several years I went to Cross Processions in Kirov, Yaroslavl and Vologda regions.

The Cross Procession (Russian: krestny khod) is a very interesting phenomenon in Russian religious life. It’s an ancient tradition, it’s been here for several centuries. Even in the times of soviet authorities, despite the official ban, the faithful would secretly gather and head with a prayer to the places, where as the legends said were the most revered shrines. In the 1990's the tradition of Cross Processions started to resume and become more crowded each year.

Participating in a Cross Procession I can spend time with the pilgrims watch them, to see the man not only in church praying, but also while he rests and to almost talk to him. I’m interested in what people do, their emotions, specific details, little situations. Everything that can truthfully tell a story about a person or depict his inner state. I think that it’s important to go deeper than the religious side of the event that lies on the surface, to try to show the person outside of the crowd. To depict the conversation with God, while not going into extremes: without cynicism on one hand and avoiding being pious on the other.

Based on first impressions, one can see that different people have a different relationship with religion. Some are content with just performing rituals, some are keeping their father’s traditions and for some (the minority) are trying to find God. Allot are asking for God’s help, seeking to find answers to many of life’s questions, maybe it’s their last hope. Someone sinned, someone has problems with his or his children’s health, someone faces family problems or someone’s husband is an alcoholic. And there are yet some are not asking for anything, who come happily, to celebrate and to thank God.