(Memory of the Forest)
Collective memory and the trace of man in time, captured by the forest.
An attempt to understand modern society by studying the history of a small ethnic group, the Veps.
Once upon a time, different tribes lived on the banks of the river Oyat: the Weses, the Chudes…
The forest can remember how it used to be. It exists much longer than human generations. For
example, pine trees can live for as long as 350 years. Mushroom mycelium binds the roots of
trees, creating one living system.
The Forest remembers the times when people knew how to communicate with spirits. The Sacred
Trees connected three worlds together:
The Underworld, where evil spirits and illnesses lived,
The Middle One, with humans.
and the Upper, with supreme spirits and the souls of the dead.
The Forest remembers how people used to come and talk to the trees and the souls of their ancestors. How people came from the west and the south and taught how to plow the land, burn and cut down trees. How they drove the spirits out of the lakes and proselytized. There were more people from abroad, many came unwillingly. Veps speech was heard less often. The Forest became smaller, the towns expanded. Then the Revolution came and the wood was floated down the rivers no longer by rafts, but by log, littering the river bottom. The Veps language was banned, textbooks were burned.
And then the War happened. The trees were wrapped in barbed wire, they were shot at, they were
used to build fortifications and crossings, and they were set on fire and torn up with shells. The
earth was soaked in blood of thousands of people who lay beneath the roots and who became
part of the Forest, part of the memory and part of this land.
New people came and began to build their world. They were building,
not knowing to whom the land belonged and how to talk to the Forest.
The Forest still remembers.