Eternal peace

Since childhood I have regularly visited cemeteries. Of all the reasons to be there, funeral is by far the least common. In Belarus people visit cemeteries on religious holidays, but also for important family celebrations. At the cemetery they clean the graves of their relatives together, they introduce the new family members to the old, they remember their departed loved ones, finally they can talk and share a humble meal. At times like this, the cemetery becomes a place where people spend time together.

If, as I child, I got bored at the cemetery, my mother would take me for a walk. I remember we used to read the tombstones, count how many years this or that person lived, notice unusual names and talk about the flowers on the graves. On one occasion we came upon the tomb of the father of Belarusian writer Yakub Kolas. I was filled with excitement from this discovery. It was a cemetery in the Belarusian countryside.

Later in life I realised that visiting a cemetery does not necessarily mean visiting the dead. It happened during a trip to Stockholm, where I went to see Skogskyrkogården, or The Woodland Cemetery, by architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz. The Woodland Cemetery is a large park with several chapels, a temple, a ceremony hall, a crematorium, different types of burials, a place for processions. There I found myself taking a long reflective walk. It was a park for quiet thought.

The photos were taken in Skogskyrkogården, Stockholm; Cimitero monumentale di Staglieno, Genoa; Cimetière d’Ixelles, Brussels; Cimetière de Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.