Une utopie communautaire en Sibérie, l'Arc-en-ciel
I always knew I would take the Trans-Siberian one day, and it seems the day has finally come! Shall I take you with me?
Une utopie communautaire en Sibérie, l'Arc-en-ciel
What happens in the span of two months when people go to the isolated forests of Siberia to pray for world peace and create a model of a functioning utopian society?
What is the project ?
For over a year and as a young researcher, I have been working on a documentary film project about a neo-hippie gathering in southern Siberia, on the shores of the famous Lake Baikal. My research focuses on community utopias and the Rainbow Family, an international alternative movement that brings together individuals wishing to live in harmony with the ideals of peace, universal love, non-violence and freedom that they cultivate. They have no leaders, no structures. No spokesperson or official rules.
Through this project and the some 17,000 kilometers that I am about to travel by train, I want to show you that all over the world, alternatives to our system already exist and foreshadow an ideal world while calling for immediate transformations. In the context of the health crisis we are experiencing, the Rainbow Utopia can give us the hope and enthousiasm we need.
Such a project requires a substantial budget and that's why I need you and your support! By helping me you will promote the collection of descriptive material and the opening of a monographic perspective on the Rainbow Family. In doing so, you will jointly participate in the realization of an anthropological field survey project and an innovative documentary film. By continuing to read, you will have a clear and detailed overview of my project, information on my research and my itinerary and of course graphics detailing my needs and my funding.
A little context
"The Summer of Love" (1967) was not limited to San Francisco and the West, and while the hippie movement in the United States made a splash, its counterpart in the Soviet Union has very little attracted the attention of cultural historians. Although the hippie movement is not always perceived or analyzed as overtly political, the alternative culture it seems to offer deserves to be studied as a genuine attempt to escape authoritarianism. By turning to the West and the “free world”, its fashion, its music, its communal utopias, the hippie movement in the USSR, did it constitute an offense against Bolshevik order and morality? How, in this political and cultural context, could it be born and exist without being a response to consumerism, in a country without malls or advertisements? My reading and research have led me to come across fields as diverse as sexuality, music and drug use in relation to the question of the forms of hippie culture in Soviet Russia. Also, many issues aroused my interest, such as expressions of spiritualism in an atheistic regime, with the KGB classifying the inclination for Eastern meditation as "ideologically dangerous". These long-haired beings - whom one did not hesitate to forcibly mow in Siberia - had the allure of saints and androgynous physique far from what Homo Sovieticus might have embodied.
►It is in the perspective of these questions that I had the chance to discover the rainbow family and participate in my first gathering in Hungary in a forest located north of Lake Balaton in spring 2019. Wishing to understand what had become of these communities, I had the chance to cross paths with rainbow gatherings, ephemeral self-managed communities that meet for the duration of a lunar cycle. Every year, in remote forests around the world, intentional communities, breaking away from capitalism and consumer society, reform in several countries at the same time to embrace the bucolic life they cherish. The Rainbow Family brings together individuals who wish to live in harmony with the ideals of peace, universal love, non-violence and freedom that drive them. They are the heirs of the "tribes" of young Americans, from the countercultures of the 1960s, who in July 1972 organized a first four-day event in Colorado. At the time, 20,000 people calling for civil disobedience faced police roadblocks before they were finally granted land in the Roosevelt National Forest. This event, which must have been unique, recurred the following year in Wyoming. It was there that the principle of an annual gathering was decided. The duration of the gatherings has since extended, from the initial duration of four days to that of a lunar cycle. The meetings were gradually relocated. In the 1980s, gatherings began to form outside of North America as self-contained yet connected events across the globe. While some Soviet hippie communities disappeared with the fall of the USSR - losing their raison d'être, that of creating a parallel world in the face of the Soviet regime - the first Rainbow gatherings in the Russian Federation were born in 1992.
It has been several weeks now that I have been carrying out online interviews with members of the Rainbow family, by making these I had the pleasure of seeing myself sent several invitations in Latvia, first at Ksenia's or even in the eco-village that Vladislav founded 30 years ago some 300 kilometers northeast of St. Petersburg - Экопоселение Гришино.
You can find my itinerary in detail by consulting the following link! https://karlrozenf.travelmap.net/une-utopie-communautaire-en-siberie-larc-en-ciel
After meeting Ksenia in Riga, I would travel to Tallinn to do another round of interviews. On June 1, 2021 I will be in Moscow. Annually since June 1, 1972 - Soviet hippies meet in Tsaritsyno Park. The event was ofﬁcially justified to celebrate the first warm rays of the sun as well as International Children's Day. Ofﬁciently, it was a tribute to the tragic arrests of 1971, when several hundred of them were arrested by the KGB while demonstrating outside the US Embassy in Moscow in protest against the Vietnam War. (1955-1975). In the Tsaritsyno Historical Park located south of Moscow, in the heart of a 405 hectare estate dating from the end of the 18th century, facing the largest neo-Gothic palace in Europe, retirees, students, travelers, marginalized people, vagrants, teachers, artists, activists or simple workers have become accustomed to coming together. Between what they would like to embody and what the social space allows them to be, there is sometimes a tension. This meeting will be an opportunity for me to meet many of the hippies from different generations, to interview them and to film them.
There are many questions that remain and despite the research I do online, my work would be immeasurably diminished without the ability to anchor it geographically as part of a true ethnography. By filming and showing the daily life of the rainbow family I would like to provide new perspectives on the current legacy of utopian communalism by placing this group in a historical context and in a long tradition of intentional communities and utopian experiments.
Photo taken by Tatiana Stoupakova on the occasion of the 1998 European gathering in Mshinskaya, near Saint Petersburg.
But the bulk of my documentary film will be made in Siberia. After Colombia in 2019, it was on the shores of Lake Baikal in southern Siberia that the Rainbow family decided to reunite. The next international peace gathering will be held in the summer of 2021. It will follow the dates of the European gathering, presumably from August 8 to September 7. The place has already been found: wild, isolated, along the shore of Lake Baikal. The upwelling of one of the 336 permanent rivers and streams that flow into the lake will provide the community with water. The weather conditions in August and September make it possible to hold an outdoor gathering. Preparation for the camp that will host the gathering, known as the seedcamp, is scheduled to begin on July 24. After a long trip on the Trans-Siberian, I will reach the banks of the Baikal from Irkutsk to celebrate the full moon in the camp whose geographical position will be specified a few weeks before D-Day.
Like the work La Sibérie comme paradis, which has just been published by the Center for Mongolian and Siberian Studies (EPHE) under the direction of Dominique Samson Normand de Chambourg and Dany Savelli, I would like to rectify the image commonly accepted by Westerners and often the Russians themselves that we have of Siberia, that of an inhospitable place that we readily associate with the "black Siberia" that Baudelaire evoked. A deserted Siberia, cold and obscure, which we tend to reduce to the single acronym of Gulag. Lake Baikal, which the Buryats - the first inhabitants to live on its shores - considered to be a “sacred sea” is the oldest and deepest lake in the world. Located in southern Siberia, in eastern Russia, it is the largest reserve of liquid fresh water on the Earth's surface.When frozen, the transparency of its waters allows perfect visibility up to 40 meters deep. We must not deny the difﬁculty of life in Siberia explains the book, the extreme climatic conditions, the prison hell it has been able to obstruct or the fate reserved for the indigenous minority peoples. Except that, as it is very rightly explained in La Sibérie comme paradis; “This land, in particular because of its vastness and its remoteness from Moscow and Saint Petersburg, has also been perceived, over the centuries, as a land of asylum and refuge, as a promised land where to anchor new societal experiences, like a land of freedom breaking with an authoritarian and predatory “center”, like a true Eldorado because of its natural resources." Siberia turns out to be the perfect region to document the magic and spirituality cultivated during these gatherings. Many of those who plan to travel to Siberia to attend this event know that Lake Baikal has always been one of the most sacred places in Asia. Lakes - large expanses of water that reflect the sky on earth - have always had this special spiritual significance for the peoples of Turkey and Mongolia.
My background and the origins of the project
A few years ago, I started studying Political Science and Literature in Poitiers and these took me to study in the United States in Pennsylvania or even in Saint Petersburg. After a stay in Israel during which I worked as a television reporter, my attraction to travel only grew stronger. In Mexico City I unearthed an old typewriter which accompanied me on my wanderings for several years. The idea was simple: to offer poems to passers-by while traveling.
"Tell me a story and a poem I'll write to you. "
From Mexico to Russia, via Poland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and even Portugal, this project and all these meetings were easily enough to justify the wandering. When I wasn't writing in capitals, I liked to get lost in nature with my hammock. My hitchhiking trips in the United States and Canada only reinforced my interest in the counter-cultures relating to the 1960s and 1970s. By completing my license I looked for a way to legitimize my attraction to travel. through my academic career. Out of a strange syncretism and after watching Terje Toomitsu's film Soviet Hippies, the idea of working on the Soviet hippie movement was born. I was learning the Russian language while being interested in the aesthetics of the hippie movement. In 2019, after having hitchhiked across Europe for more than 16,000km, I was leading writing, painting and collage workshops in an artistic residence for children located in a forest near the city of Vladimir in Russia. Subsequently, I was admitted to a double Franco-Russian master's degree in Sociology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and at the Moscow National Research University. I joined CERCEC, the Center for Russian, Caucasian and Central European World Studies, a joint CNRS / EHESS research unit. After my experience in Hungary at a rainbow gathering in a forest north of Lake Balaton, my project became clearer. I decided to take an interest in the issue of contemporary community utopias and the legacy of the hippie movement from the 1960s and 1970s. It didn't take long for me to understand how little anthropology works were read if it wasn't for the researchers who write them themselves. So why not swap the typewriter for the camera this time and take you with me to my research field?
When I joined EHESS I began to take an interest in visual anthropology and ethnography, in the descriptive and analytical study of the activities and way of life of a particular human group. And ethnography requires work "in the field", direct observation, and sometimes even the participation of the investigator. Right now I'm doing online interviews with members of the Rainbow Family, and I've been patiently waiting for months for the borders to finally reopen. I also published an article for Politika - L'utopie communautaire Arc-en-ciel à l'épreuve. Little by little, the project of making a documentary film based on my field of research took shape: the next international rainbow gathering for peace on the shores of the famous Lake Baikal, in southern Siberia. So today I take the liberty of asking for your help and soliciting you through this crowdfunding campaign.
In March 2019, I had the chance to make my first short film in Super 8 during the Short Film Festival: Itinéraire dans l'errance. Produced with the technique of In-camera editing, Itinéraire dans l'errance reveals indifference, indifference in the face of poverty, that which presents itself before our eyes on a daily basis. To date, I have not yet made a documentary film, so it is with all humility that I embark on this new adventure for which I need you and your support, you can take part in the journey.
The Rainbow Family can demonstrate how hopes for a better society can be a force for effective transformation in the world.
Waar dient de collecte voor
I am currently working on the development of several scholarship application files from institutions such as the National Cinema Center which pre-selected my project, help with scriptwriting from the Île-de-France Region or the Louis Dumont Fund for research assistance in Social Anthropology. I have already obtained mobility aid from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, which will fund the transport pole of my budget to the tune of 625 euros.
For ecological and ethical reasons, and because I would lose a lot of what train travel can provide, I decided not to take a plane on this trip.
If the campaign is successful, the KissKissBankBank commission will be 8%
Regarding the rewards, you will be contacted at the end of this campaign. A big thank you in advance to all those who will help me and who will have taken the time to read me!