Rock and Faith - PhMuseum

Rock and Faith

NADEZHDA ARESHINA

2021 - Ongoing

Rock and Faith is a visual story dedicated to the Old Ritualist settlements in the Altay mountains of Russia. Presently, in spite of the overall fading of old traditions and lifestyle there remain communities of Old Religion preachers within those settlements. The members of such communities profess the “true faith” in its form that is identical to the original one that had existed before the Russian Orthodox Church reform was introduced by patriarch Nikon in the 17th century. Back then, the policy aimed at the modernisation of both church and faith, whose purpose was to

strengthen Russia’s ties with Europe, inflicted strong resistance in religious people; especially the serfdom-bound peasants. In the absence of physical freedom the only consolation and proof of living for such people was their faith in God: their artistic skill and life will manifested themselves through rituals and traditions. As such, the government-issued orders to change the rituals and religious texts, as well as their subsequent enforcement, resulted in mass fleeing of the religious

people in search of places where they could hide and preserve the “true faith” that they inherited from their ancestors. Thus, the Altay region became one of the centres where Old Ritualists found their refuge and the opportunity to live freely for themselves and their descendants. The mountains that cover the terrain ensured a secure hideout and the wild nature’s abundant resources allowed for establishing

settlements there.

During my travel and meeting the inhabitants of these Old Ritualist villages I pursued the goal of discovering and experiencing a certain spirit; the mind state of the descendants from those migrant escapists who, after having been chased away and persecuted, once found their heaven on Earth among the beauty and abundance of nature. Spirituality, alongside deep connection to nature,

became their escape as well as their foundation for a simple life. I reckon that today’s world is in need of recovering what has been lost during the process of societal development. Stories like this present an opportunity to consider the principles of a simpler, more sustainable life that is built upon labour, natural resources and spiritual values. The story of “Rock and Faith” may serve as an invitation to reflect upon the historical processes of development; the condition that the modern man currently finds himself in, and also the prospects of alternative directions in which the society could develop.

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  • Sasha is one of 10 children in an Old Ritualist family. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Children during the summer school holidays play under the bridge, swimming in the cold mountain river Multushka and then basking around the campfire. Multa village, Altay republic, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Kirill is one of 10 children in an Old Ritualist family. He is playing with a stuffed fox. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Valentina and her daughter Serafima. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Ivan is in his parents ' house in the Old Ritualist village of Kuyacha. Ivan is engaged in breeding horses and training them. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Savely. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Evdokiya Rodionovna. One of the eldest keepers of the Old Religion in the Uymon valley. Such keepers are referred to as ‘educated’. Evdokiya Rodionovna is a mother to 6 children. She does not use main line or mobile phones. Just like many other Old Ritualists she rejected receiving government-issued pensions. There is a room that is specifically designated to praying in her house; the room is equipped with a wall-sized wooden altar. Zamulta village, Altay republic, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Nikifor is one of 10 children of an Old Rutualist family at the table set for lunch. Nikifor, along with his father and older brother Grisha, live during the summer holidays in a pasture-stall. It is located at the distance of 12 km from the main family house in Kuyacha.They prepare hay for the winter and graze sheep. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Children during the summer school holidays play under the bridge, swimming in the cold mountain river Multushka and then basking around the campfire. Multa village, Altay republic, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • The Batunnyy Meadow. Pasture-stall belonging to an Old Ritualist family. Located at the distance of 12 km from the main family house in Kuyacha. In summer, the father and the sons of the family live here; they graze sheep and gather hay for winter. During winter, the eldest son, Ivan, lives at the stall. The small wooden house contains 3 polati — bench-like beds by the Russian stove, a table, a stool a kamelyek — a small fireplace. An icon shelf is placed in the corner along with a candleholder and an oil lamp burner. All of the furniture was hand crafted from wood. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Pavel Mikhailovich and Evgeniya Semenovna. The couple has 10 children ranging in age from 10 to 35 years old. They profess the old faith, raise children in its teachings, and pass down the knowledge of not just the old rituals and religious texts but also the knowledge of how to maintain a inartificially-run household and maximise the connection with nature. They practice hunting, collect wild herbs, farm, grow plants, breed bees, craft from leather, weave ropes, forge from metal. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • A non-working dilapidated wooden bridge over the Katun River in the village of Multa. Multa village, Altay republic, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • The Bulatov family at their Klyacha village house. The parents were baptised in accordance with the Old Ritualis. They are religious but do not carry out the daily ritual routine. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Egor, Sasha, Maxim, Sergei. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Christina and Faina are sisters who's mother, Lyubov, is appointed at the council of the community helping with the baptism of children. Multa village, Altay republic, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Grigory is on the top of the mountain Baldy. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Mikhail is on the top of the mountain Baldy and is holding a bouquet of rhubarb in his hands. With his wife and four children, Mikhail lives in the village of Kuyacha near his parents ' house. They are engaged in apiary and subsidiary farming. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Two brothers Ivan and Mikhail with Mikhail's son Grigory equipped a place for sleeping in the forest. In the forest, the brothers are engaged in hunting and collecting herbs. Kuyacha village, Altay region, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Maxim. Terekta village, Altay republic, Russian Federation, 2021.

  • Psaltyr — the Book of Psalms — is the main prayer book in Tatyana Danilovna’s house. She is a mentor of the Old Ritualist community of Bezpopovtsy in the High Uymon village. The holy books convey the word of God, therefore preservation of the religious texts in their original and unchanged form is the foundation and a duty of the Old Ritualists. High -Uymon, Altay republic, Russian Federation, 2021.


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