The series with family archive and four elements tells a story of my family. South, Cossacks, a line of my grandfather depicted through the element of fire. Doukhobors, the west, a line of my grandmother is shown through the element of earth. Nobles, the North, a family of orthodox priests from Pskov, a line of my father’s mother is shown through the element of wind. Far East, Manchurians, a line of my father’s dad is shown through the element of water.

Doukhobors were living and working on land. They believed that transfiguration of human and world through love is possible, confessed the idea of non-violent resistance that Leo Tolstoy has taken from their worldview. They believed that God is alive in humans through kindness and compassion.

Cossacks, the ancestors of Black Sea Greeks, Khazars and Caucasian highlanders were always protecting the southern borders of Russia. My grandfather went through WWII, participated in liberation of Caucasus. Fire is the power of love that can kill, but which can also protect.

My father’s mother survived the Leningrad Siege. She is from the family of nobles, her mother and some of her sisters studied in Isidorov School for nobleman daughters. She was steel-willed person who never compromised injustice. The wind is aiming, creation and communication, but also the white rage of heavens.  

Far-Eastern story of my dad’s father is told through the element of water; because he was a sailor who visited most of the planet’s waters. Water is the information, eternal wandering, primordium of life.

Thus, the story of elements is also a story of interaction of some powers that attract each other, or a story of people moving towards each other despite the obstacles of time.

 All of my grand grandfathers were killed. Doukhobors survived multiple de-kulakization and execution of the grand grandfather for his pacifistic worldview. Many went through GULAG. Ancestors were forced to be silent about the beliefs of ancestors for the rest of their lives. Grand grandfather who was Cossack died during the WWII. He fought against the fascist tanks with the saber riding a horse. All that’s left of him was the piece of blood-soaked overcoat. My father’s grandfathers also were executed. One because he participated in Blukher’s riot on the Far East, and another one because he was a poet and a translator: he knew that secret forces are coming over him so he divorced the grand grandmother and thus saved the family. His daughter, my grandmother was called a daughter of the enemy of the nation. She always was beating for this – without even looking who was saying – just was beating the speaker to his face.

I don’t want to do any conclusions. Each family has its own story, its own joy and grieving and probably, its own truth. The mystery of life is independent from our notion of it. But love and patience, following the call of a heart will lead us where we are supposed to be.