Thursday, 8 September 2011

Tolstoy & Doukhobors — 42-image CD

42 large panel images about Lev Tolstoy and the Doukhobors were exhibited in Germany to commemorate the centennial of Tolstoy's death. The bilingual 'CD 7' of the exhibit is now available from the Gandhi Information Center in Berlin. See announcement (June 11, 2011) New CD: Leo Tolstoy and the Doukhobors.

These images were shown by the Gandhi Information Center in their exhibit Leo Tolstoi und die Duchoborzen: Kriegsdienstverweigerung aus Gewissensgruenden (Leo Tolstoy and the Doukhobors: Conscientious Objection) from September 11, 2010 to January 29, 2011 hosted at the Peace Gallery, Anti-War Museum. The Mayor of Berlin-Mitte, Dr Christian Hanke, opened it.

I have reviewed the CD and was impressed that director Christian Bartolf has chosen to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Tolstoy with the central core of his concern that of creating a culture of peace in a nonkilling world.

The Doukhobors were rightly featured as part of this tradition. Several panels illustrated the peace theme by citing their historic 1895 arms burning in Tsarist Russia. The CD cover design features the iconic image of the arms burning by Canadian artist Bill Perehudoff who was a conscientious objector during World War II, and spent several months in a Saskatchewan jail in lieu of military service. The captions and descriptions are familiar to me because they come directly from my books and others.

The first 39 panels are largely quotations from Tolstoy's books.
  • 'I cannot be silent' — reflections on Tolstoy's views to abolish the army.
  • 'The Slavery of Our Times' — is a view that military service destroys all benefits of the social order of life which it employed to maintain.
  • Quote from Manifesto Against Conscription and the military system.
  • Quotes from the Kingdom of God is Within You.
  • Quote from Tolstoy to Peter V. Verigin (such as found in Andrew Donskov's book).

Panel 40 is the arms burning triptych oil on canvas (image 4) created in 1995 by Russian artist Vladimir Gubanov in commemoration of the 100th year anniversary of the event. The description of this remarkable image reads:

'It characterizes a romantic view of the burning of guns near the village of Orlovka in Bogdanovskoi Raion, Georgia. The image depicts the struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. In the first plan, there is perturbance [disturbance or agitation], and the site of burning arms. In the lower place, is the sun — the centre of creation. On the right side, at the edge, is the earth. There is a moon, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. The colours have significance. Light colours are for the sun in the centre and its rays fill the whole. The perturbance relates to the worms and snakes which characterize evil. ... In front is a person who lights the fire. Next is a person who struggles for life. Higher up is a man who has fallen to evil. Higher up still is a man in the process of transformation between one form and another. On the bottom, right, is the city, churches, and homes. ... Doukhobors are separated from the main civilization. If the wrestler stops, this may cause an effect on the whole universe. Lower left shows a view of people carrying torches — they point the way to action. Women hug their children and save them.' (See description and image in Tarasoff, Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers' Strategies for Living, 2002: 224-225).

Panel 41 is a poem of thanks by Canadian and Russian Doukhobors to their mentor Lev N. Tolstoy who helped them financially and gave them a voice to the world. Without the wisdom and assistance of this Russian genius, Doukhobors would likely not exist today.

The visuals end with Panel No.42 — Doukhobor Peace Message 2010. The final two paragraphs proclaim the following message:

'As we commemorate the firm and courageous stand that our ancestors took in 1895, let us be reminded of the message of Tolstoy and the Doukhobors — that the slavery of our times must end, and that love should instead become the central unifying ethic of humankind.

'That, Brothers and Sisters, is the real meaning of the day! If words can fly, let this wisdom spread around the world. As Spirit Wrestlers, let us help build a Culture of Peace on Planet Earth!'

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, dear Kozma Tarasoff - without Larry Ewashen's, Andrei Conovaloff's and your constant encouragement and support my friend Dominique Miething and me would have not been in the position to create our exhibition for peace education as it is now - now we will create, print and send you the purely English language version for display and presentation from your side in North America and elsewhere. Nonviolence and Peace !

    Christian Bartolf (Chair), Gandhi Information Center, Research and Education for Nonviolence, Postfach (P.O.Box) 210109, 10501 Berlin, Germany - email: - -