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A City with a Double Meaning. The Moscow Metro on Judgement Day. A lecture by Dmitri Glukhovsky

Public program accompanying Taryn Simon’s exhibition Action Research / The Stagecraft of Power
14 May 2016
5:30–7:00 pm


Writer Dmitri Glukhovsky will present his ideas about the mythology of subterranean spaces, which provide the setting for his bestselling novel Metro 2033. Glukhovsky will describe and analyze secret objects (such as metro 2, Moscow’s unofficial secret metro line) that served as prototypes for his fictional universe.

The Moscow metro is one of the most popular transportation systems in the world. Over nine million people use it daily—the overwhelming majority of them have no other choice. Year after year, they descend into its marble and granite stations and travel hundreds of thousands of kilometers under the earth without even thinking about where they actually are.

But the Moscow metro also has another function: as a bomb shelter. Accelerated construction of the metro began during World War II, when the existing metro had shown itself to be a reliable air-raid shelter that saved tens of thousands of lives from German bombs. It is no coincidence that the stations of the Moscow metro are located dozens of meters underground—deeper than almost any other metro on earth. Many of them are equipped with hermetic gates that can turn them into reliably sealed bunkers in just a few seconds.

Secret metro stations, intended for the evacuation of the government, military and intellectual elite, are said to be located under the buildings of ministries, the headquarters of Russia’s secret service (the FSB), the Kremlin, and the former Lenin Library. They are located behind the walls of ordinary stations and are connected by secret tracks alongside "civilian" tunnels. According to rumors, evacuation tunnels thousands of kilometers long lead from Moscow east to the Urals. Few passengers among the millions that use the metro daily think about the fact that they descend into a grandiose subterranean city, only a small part of which is visible to the uninitiated.


Dmitry Glukhovsky is a Russian writer, social critic and author of the books Metro 2033, Future, and Stories of the Fatherland. His books have been translated into 37 languages, receiving prestigious European literary awards. Published in one and a half million copies, his first novel Metro 2033 has engendered an entire youth subculture. Glukhovsky served as a correspondent for the TV channels EuroNews and SkyNews, worked at SkyNews and Deutsche Welle, and wrote columns for Playboy, GQ, Snob, Robb's Report, etc. He is fluent in five foreign languages.


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