Rock and Faith by Areshina Nadezhda
This is a visual story dedicated to the Old Ritualist settlements in the Altay mountains of Russia. The members of these communities profess the ‘true faith’, a form of worship that existed before reform was introduced to the Russian Orthodox Church by patriarch Nikon in the 17th century. The policy aimed to modernise both church and faith and strengthen Russia’s ties with Europe. It was met with strong resistance from religious people; especially the serfdom-bound peasants who drew great comfort from their faith and its rituals and traditions. When the government ordered for these to be changed many decided to flee in order to protect the ‘true faith’. Thus, the Altay region became one of the centres where Old Ritualists found their refuge and the opportunity to live freely. The mountains that cover the terrain ensured a secure hideout and nature’s abundant resources allowed them to establish their settlements.
During my travels and meeting the inhabitants of these Old Ritualist villages I adopted the state of mind of those who originally escaped from persecution and found their heaven on Earth among the beauty and abundance of nature. Spirituality and a deep connection to nature, became their escape as well as their foundation for a simple, sincere life. Stories like this present an opportunity to consider the principles of a more sustainable life that is built upon labour, natural resources and spiritual values. It serves 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.