AIDARA by Emile Ducke

By in Series on 30. May 2017

Secluded in the West Siberian plain lies Aidara. The village is only reachable by the
river Ket, the passage requires attention and experience as fallen trees are often creating
obstacles under the water surface. The next bigger settlement lies around three
hours down the river. The village of 150 inhabitants is mainly consisting of a community
of Russian Orthodox Old Believers who live by the strict rules of their religion.
Old Believers see themselves as the preservers of original Orthodox traditions after
they separated from the main church as a protest against reforms in the 17th century.
They continue liturgical practices that the Russian Orthodox Church had before the
implementation of these reforms. Those who maintained fidelity to the existing rite
endured severe persecutions until the beginning of the 20th century as „Schismatics“.
In order to avoid persecution Old Believers settled mostly in more isolated locations.
After a short “Golden Age of the Old Faith“ between 1905 and 1917, when an act of
religious freedom signed by Tsar Nicholas II ended persecution of all religious minorities
in Russia, Old Believers where again marginalized by the Soviet administration.
Today several big families in Aidara keep up original Orthodox traditions. As there is
no church in Aidara, relatives and neighbours gather in praying rooms at their homes,
in order to read the sacred scriptures in Church Slavic language.
Beside the faith, everyday life of Aidara’s inhabitants consists of exhausting agricultural
work on the fields and in their gardens – their sustenance is almost self-sufficient.
A helicopter is delivering whatever else is being needed alongside with the mail every
two weeks.
At the outskirts of Aidara village a seemingly endless forest spreads out, reaching
deep in the Siberian wideness. In summer times the ground dries out – frequently
forest fires arise and grow fast. The inhabitants of the village then lay controlled backfires,
in order to bring the forest fire under control and defend their village.

Emile Ducke (*1994 in Munich, Germany) studies Photojournalism and Documentary
Photography at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hannover. In 2016 he
spent his semester abroad at the Faculty of Journalism at Tomsk State University, Siberia,
where he realized the photo-essay on Aidara as part of a collaborative project
with writer Alina Pinchuk.


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