gm project   I   mission

cyanotypes on paper h:51 cm


Attracted by the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Montandon went to the Soviet Union in 1919. He is forty-two years old. He was one of the first intellectuals to immerse himself in this revolution.
The International Committee of the Red Cross entrusted him with the task of negotiating and organizing the repatriation by Vladivostok of Austrian prisoners of war held in Siberia. It crosses the country via the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Sakhalin Island, where the last of the Ainu people live. The mission stops en route at the Buryates' home on Lake Baikal, on the borders of Mongolia. He not only deals with the repatriation of prisoners during these two winters in Russia; he also takes the opportunity to study the morphology of the various peoples he met. As a man of equality, he approved of the Bolshevik revolution, including his political police, the Cheka.




During his trip to Russia, he married a 22-year-old Russian communist, Marie Zviaghina, born on February 8, 1897 in Perm, daughter of a famous surgeon, of whom he would have two daughters and a son.
The scientific interest of having measured skulls among the Mongols and Aleuts was not the only satisfaction of this journey. In Féerie for another time, Celine presents Montandon to us as forever nostalgic for the steppes and the snow: "Hold the dead and buddy Montandon, who had explored all these places, Siberia, wide and wide, he remained bitten! ... ah the Tundra! that he sighed at me... it was fairy tales according to him.... snow cyclones that everything was carried away! (...) There are sinoques of the steppes!...!... He would have gone to Tomsk on foot, Montandon the anthropologist to see his "farther-than-nothing-from-all"... If he suffered from his small suburbs.... Clamart!...... Can you imagine?!...."