"Private Moon" at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC

Leonid Tishkov’s “Private Moon” at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC (all images courtesy the artist unless indicated)

In Russia in 2003, a man fell in love with the moon. Or that’s the story artist Leonid Tishkov presents in his Private Moon series, where he journeys around the Earth with his cosmic companion: a radiant, six-foot-tall crescent moon.

“Private Moon” at the Washington, DC Masonic Temple (click for full size)

He started the project in 2003 in and around Moscow, creating his own photographic fairytale of “a man who met the moon and stayed with her forever.” Now he and his celestial soulmate have journeyed to Taiwan, England, Austria, France, the Arctic, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Japan, Kazakhstan, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. And they keep wandering, roaming in a sort of otherworldly partnership — whether it’s to a Taiwanese stoop swarmed with cats, an icy Arctic fjord, or the National Mall in Washington, DC.

The American visit was part of a residency and exhibition this fall at Hand Print Workshop International in Alexandria, Virginia, where he worked with Dennis O’Neil as well as some of his students at the Corcoran College of Art and Design to photograph in the area. Some of the results Tishkov shared with Hyperallergic and are included here: an odd juxtaposition of the moon reflecting on the pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial, a late-night visit to the home of Edgar Allan Poe in Baltimore. There is something strongly literary about the Private Moon photographs, where they are much more about this journey of Tishkov with the moon rather than any individual image, not that there aren’t many that are beautiful, mournful, or unexpectedly romantic.

“Private Moon” and the Edgar Allan Poe House

Perhaps not surprisingly, Tishkov has also authored a children’s book — one featuring a boy and a moon — but what is more intriguing is his backstory. The 60-year-old artist started in medicine before moving to art, and he has described the difficulties of being an artist in Russia, from the censorship of his cartoons in the 1970s to the current restrictions with government pressure and a lack of funding. The moon, with its readily engaging visual and narrative strength, seems to have been a way for him to escape — and he’s been invited around the world to continue this lunar love story.

“Private Moon” in the Arctic

This January, his photographs will be included in The Arts Catalyst’s Republic of the Moon at Bargehouse in London, which is creating an “Earth-based embassy” for an artist-declared moon republic. This embassy will also include artist Agnes Meyer-Brandis raising 11 “moon geese,” space-age transportation after the 1638 book Man in the Moone by Francis Godwin, and Katie Paterson transmitting a Morse Code “Moonlight Sonata” to the Moon where it is reflected back again. Additionally, Private Moon is currently featured in a solo show at the Pechersky Gallery in the Winzavod Contemporary Art Center in Moscow. Tishkov also chronicles his continuing journeys with the moon on his blog.

“Private Moon” in Paris

Journey of the “Private Moon” to the Xiaogang Container Yard in Taiwan in 2012 (Courtesy the artist & Pechersky Gallery)

“Private Room” on the bridge Antietnam

“Private Moon” in the Jardin des Tuileries

“Private Moon” and the Eiffel Tower

“Private Moon” in Formosa

“Private Moon” in Formosa

“Private Moon” in the Arctic Svalbard Magdalene fjord in 2010

“Private Moon” in Formosa

“Private Moon” at the Magdalena Fjord in the Arctic

A boy and the “Private Moon” in Lviv, Ukraine, 2012

“Private Moon” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC

Journey of the “Private Moon” to Formosa in 2012 (Courtesy the artist & Pechersky Gallery)

“Private Moon” in Taiwan (courtesy the artist & The Arts Catalyst)

“Private Moon” installation in Watou in 2013

“Private Moon” in bed while traveling in America

“Private Moon” on a snowy Russian roof

“Private Moon” in Kazakhstan

Photographs of Leonid Tishkov’s Private Moon series are currently on display in The Journey of the Private Moon to Formosa at the Perchersky Gallery in the Winzavod Contemporary Art Center (1 4th Syromyatnichesky Pereulok, Moscow) through December 25. His photographs will also be presented by The Arts Catalyst in their Republic of the Moon exhibition at Bargehouse (Oxo Tower Wharf, London) from January 10 to February 2, 2014. 

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Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print...

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