The Czech island of the archipelago of Russian emigration.
The revolution of 1917 shifted from the place a huge layer of the Russian Empire. Until now, probably, the wound that emigrated to the national culture did not last long, many scientists, writers, and artists left the country. No other wave of emigration from Russia was so full of people of creative professions. Many, having found their second home in Czechoslovakia, continued to write, draw, play on stage, compose music.
“Prague is a significant, beautiful and friendly city. In places it resembles Petrograd, in places the old medieval engraving … “(Evgeny Chirikov)
When we say “Russian emigration in Czechoslovakia”, we recall Marina Tsvetaeva, who, although she spent only three years here, wrote her most important works here and remembered her all her life – despite the exhausting life, these were perhaps the most prosperous years her emigration. Many years later, having left Mokropsy and Vshenory, she will respond to the news about the Germans’ invasion “Poems to the Czech Republic”. We remember Arkady Averchenko, Eugene Chirikov, Vasily Nemirovich-Danchenko. The scientists are the Byzantologist Nicodem Kondakov, the founder of the Slavic Library Vladimir Tukalevsky, the historians Alexander Kiesewetter and Ivan Lappo, the literary critic Alfred Bohm and many others who have found the necessary academic environment within the walls of the Charles University and Russian faculties. Of course, the “Russian world” of Czechoslovakia consisted not only of famous writers and scientists – thousands of people of different professions lived and worked here.
In addition, do not forget that traditionally the notion of “Russian emigration” is attributed not only to ethnic Russians, but to all who came from the territory of the Russian Empire – Ukrainians and Belarusians. They created their own educational institutions, opened art workshops, produced books and magazines, and their lives, sometimes intersecting with the life of the Russian diaspora, and sometimes walking their own way, also became part of the history of exile.
Poster exhibition “Experience of Exile”, Photo: Katerina Aizpurvit, Czech Radio – Radio Prague About them and many others who brought with them to Czechoslovakia the main wealth – their talent, recalls the exhibition “Experience of Exile” (Zkusenost exilu), the opening of which already Radio Prague said.
The curator of the exhibition, Michael Kutanov, employee of the National Writer’s Monument in Prague, talks about the goals set by the organizers.
– The exhibition in the pavilion “Star”, which will last until the end of October, is devoted to emigration from the territory of the former Russian Empire. In the archives of the National Writing Memorial there are many interesting funds and collections that we want to present to the general public.
– I believe that the year 2017 for the creation of such an exhibition was not chosen by chance?
– Of course. We planned this project three years ago, but decided to wait for the anniversary of the revolutionary events in Russia.
– What aspects of the life of emigration, in the first place, this exhibition covers?
Mihaela Kutanova, Photo: Katerina Aizpurvit, Czech Radio – Radio Prague – It focuses on cultural and scientific activities. We wanted to remind not only of such famous names as Marina Tsvetaeva and Grigory Musatov, but also to touch on new topics. First of all, it concerns the technical intelligentsia, engineers, doctors, which is devoted to one of the main sections of the exposition.
– How do you illustrate the life of Russian immigrant doctors?
– We present their documents, preserved in the archives of Czechoslovakia, photographs depicting episodes of their personal lives, and, of course, their works – in Russian and in Czech, which were published in the inter-war Czechoslovakia. Among the extremely interesting exhibits are also special professional magazines, which at that time were published a lot. After the Second World War, many Russian doctors worked in Czechoslovakia, primarily in the villages, helping the sick.
– And all this – documents from the archives of the National Monument of Writing?
– We have the most extensive collection of personal documents of Russian and Ukrainian emigration on the territory of the Czech Republic, and they formed the backbone of the exhibition. We also used the funds of the Slavic Library, the National Archives in Prague and others, in whose collections documents of professional associations of Russian emigrants are kept.
– Among the exhibits there are also works of art and books. They also came to the exhibition from your funds?
Ukrainian stand, Photo: Katerina Aizpurvit, Czech Radio – Radio Prague – Yes, some are kept with us. First of all, these are the works of emigre artists who illustrated the books published in the interwar years. We also use the exhibits of the National Gallery, where, for example, the remarkable works of Grigory Musatov are kept. It is with great pleasure that we present here a collection of Russian artists belonging to the Art Gallery of the city of Nakhod.
– One of your stands is dedicated to the first independent Ukraine – UNR. This topic is relevant today, so, probably, you did not select it accidentally?
– First of all, because Czechoslovakia and Prague were a major center of Ukrainian and Belarusian emigration. We have a fund of Dmitry Doroshenko and other prominent representatives of the Ukrainian inter-war diaspora.
– Part of your exhibition is devoted to cinematography – in the hall even some films are shown.
Vera Baranovskaya, Photo: open source – These are tapes, roles in which Russian actors performed, or acted as directors. She was widely known in Czechoslovakia as actress Vera Baranovskaya, who performed a role in the famous film “Saint Vaclav”. She also played in the first Czech sound film “Tonka-Hangman”. She did not stay in Czechoslovakia and spent the rest of her life in Paris. A real star of the 1920’s and 1930’s. can also be called an actor of Russian origin Vladimirova.
– As you know, Russian actors in Czechoslovakia played not only in the cinema, but also on the stage.
– In the theatrical section of our exhibition we remind of such a famous name as Elizaveta Nikolskaya, who was not only an actress, her image inspired Czech artists. We represent works here, the impetus for the creation of which was the art of Russian actors. Also at the exhibition you can see a lot of graphic works created by Benoit and Bilibin for theatrical performances.
– What scenes were these performances performed on?
– Mainly in the National Theater, since the level of ballet and opera in the interwar years was exactly the highest there.
– The tablets at the exhibition are duplicated in Russian. Do you expect Russian-speaking visitors?
Pavilion Zvezda, Photo: Katerina Aizpurvit, Czech Radio – Radio Prague – Before each section, we put comments in three languages – Czech, Russian and English.
– What did you want to say when choosing such an unusual design for the exposition? Wooden panels, diverging to the sides of the corridors?
– The architecture of the pavilion “Star” is difficult for organizing exhibitions. The central hall resembles a labyrinth, and it seemed to us that the circumstances in which these people fell, forced to leave their homeland, not knowing if they will be able to return, and where they will go, resembles wandering through the labyrinth.
And we can only guess whether the Czech archives will not open in 100 years, in 2117, an exhibition dedicated to the fate of those who have to emigrate from Russia these days.
Exhibition “The experience of exile.” Russian emigrants in Czechoslovakia.
The exhibition, telling about the fate of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian emigration, opened in Prague, is not coincidentally timed to 2017 & hellip;
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The Czech island of the archipelago of Russian emigration.