Soul of a Witness: World War II as Seen through the Eyes of Effendi Kapiev and Nikolai Lakov

Soul of a Witness:  World War II as Seen through the Eyes of Effendi Kapiev and Nikolai Lakov

This exhibition prompted by the anniversary of victory in World War II offers a perspective on war through the eyes of two creative personalities in Dagestan who were friends with each other—the artist Niolai Lakov and the poet Effendi Kapiev.  Both composed their sketches and writings right at the front lines, setting down the fear and heroism, the joy of a letter from home, the grief over the death of a comrade, and the tragic grandeur of the ravaged battlefields and ruined cities.

The artist Nikolai Lakov worked as a reporter for the Museum of Military Medicine of the Soviet Army.  He used his drawings to show the heroic everyday efforts of medical staff and the consequences of war that he saw his own eyes—battlefields, crippled military equipment, liberated prisoner of war camps, and more.

The poet and writer Effendi Kapiev worked as a war correspondent at the frontlines.  The exhibition offers excerpts from the notebooks he used at the front.  What makes them exceptionally valuable is that the poet made these notes for himself without any intent to publish them and without passing them through any “filters”.  This gives us the rare opportunity to understand what people who lived through that war really saw and felt.  The experience of those who gazed at what was impossible to watch, who withstood what was unbearable and yet still remained human beings is probably the most precious thing that we can take away from this exhibition.

The exhibition was supplemented by guided tours constructed as conversations on themes handled by Effendi Kapiev in his notebooks.

Nikolai Lakov’s works were provided by the Patimat Gamzatova Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts as part of a series of programmes to counteract the ideology of terrorism.