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Liavon Taraseviсh: If the house does not have a table, a family is destroyed

Liavon Tarasevich /

Liavon Taraseviсh is the artist with a worldwide reputation, a Belarusian from Podlachia, a big lover of birds. We met on his dovecote in the yard of the Academy of Arts in Warsaw – this place is liked by the local hipsters.

I asked him to tell me the tragic story of the doves. The unexpected question embarrassed him: Liavon had waited for a question about art. If you want a story about pigeons it will be about pigeons: he is drawing a story and a Cuban cigar. 

Liavon Taraseviсh: I recall 1984. Three guys in two luxury Mercedes arrived to my colleague and me. They were wearing as my mom said leather jackets, skin-head, and they asked us: is it possible to buy the Bielastokskaya dove? Raman said that it cost 5 thousand. It was a monthly salary – 5 thousand. They asked: why is it so expensive?  And Raman said: “10 thousand”.  Sometime later the cost was raised to 15 thousand. “Why 15 now? And there was 5?" Raman: “it was 5, now it’s 15”.  You know it came up to 30. They agreed on 30 thousand. He took a ladder, picked out a dove. It’s very important that a dove should have a white eyebrow, without any colorful feathers between eyes. The clients checked it. Raman asked the dove back, took it in his hand, put between his fingers. And he tore off the head of the dove, the blood spurted as he said: “D ** would never care about such pigeons”.

Jan Rolke / Forum


Euraradio: Why have people stopped to keep their own? Where is their honor?

Liavon Taraseviсh: The money came so fast, the style of life has changed speedily … Everyone tries to reach the top, as my mom said, catch up with the masters. Today, only 30% of people in Poland celebrate Easter. Why? They go to the sea, mountains or countryside, to have nothing common with Easter. Christianity is superficial, but it is not a decoration. If the stores did not sell chocolate rabbits, then no one would know that now we have a holiday. Moreover, the abortions are being done in the mass scale on Easter day.  Cook these eggs ...  This is a pagan tradition. The life is in this egg. Do you think about it in this way?

Euroradio: You are an Orthodox, from Podlachia. What’s it like to live among Catholics?

Liavon Taraseviсh: I was born in a family of workers, we didn’t have time for any traditions. But we ate at the table, it kept the family. But today people even in the village build a kitchen without a kitchen. If the house does not have a dinner table, a family breaks up. One thing I did not like as a child is fasting – a kid does not understand why he can’t eat. It is also difficult to stand overnight in the church. Fortunately, in my Haradok the church was beautifully decorated, and I had something to look at. Sometimes I got a hit on the forehead from my father when I wasn’t looking at the holy doors but was getting acquainted with the Saints.

Euroradio: There is much talk about the identity. You are from the border area between Belarus and Poland. Do you feel that you have ripped identity or do you perceive it in another way?

Liavon Taraseviсh: The Polish Catholicism keeps us with Belarusian identity and Orthodoxy. Without Catholicism, we would have become Poles much faster. We have had a Catholic church in Haradok since 1937, but the priests come to us from Argentina. For us it is a great contrast that we see and during the elections. Half of the locals, mostly Catholics, will vote for the right party. And the second half will vote for anyone who would not remind of the pre-war time of Sanation.

Euroradio: During a few last years the Polish nationalist marches took place which are dedicated to "cursed soldier" Romuald Rajs « Bury» who burnt Belarusian villages with people after II WW.  What is it? Is it an attempt to hurt the Belarusian minority or thoughtlessness?  

Liavon Taraseviсh: On the one hand this is thoughtlessness, on the other hand, this is a foolishness of the authority which will lead to grief because it creates estrangement among the Belarusians from country where they live. Now we have a more terrible thing: among people who wear military there are our boys, a grandson goes on the march, and a grandmother stands on the pedestrian street, she remembers how her village was burnt. The guy who organized this march teaches religion at school. And this is another example of "militant Catholicism".

Euroradio: What kind of future do you predict?

Liavon Taraseviсh: Our young people go to work in Norway and England for three months, they work there and come back, and go for another three months. Due to this, they do not interrupt the contact with their family, they do not go to different culture. The previous work immigration took the people from us. The people were looking for happiness. America hasn’t given happiness them.

I finished recording the interview, took pictures of the dovecote, asked about the doves. Liavon breeds different types of them – from Mikalausky (as Liavon said they fly vertically) to Vensky, Liavon has black ones, with gentle long necks.  He said that the dove had previously been a symbol of the pagan goddess of love Venus, later Christians made it a symbol of the Holy Spirit. I added that communists regarded it as a symbol of peace.