Whip and gingerbread (2019-2021)

Tula has been a legendary city of Russian gunsmiths since the Middle Ages. The defense industry has always fed the city, with profile factories are still operating nowadays.

The local attitude to weapons is very special: as a rule, from reverence to even rapture sometimes. Moreover, Tula, both in climate and in spirit, gravitates toward southern Russian cities, with the population mostly conservative and loyal to the government. At the same time, there’s no particular aggression inside Tula. Perhaps, living in an armory city, they understand what force is and how to work with it.

All this happens against the backdrop of a new Cold War, of some politics' statements about the need for “rattling arms” and so on. But, without getting into politics: our grandfathers sincerely fought for peace, not for an arms race. Therefore, the cult of war surely scares. On the other hand, weapons are not synonymous with war: they are a symbol of power that must be handled delicately and carefully. A boy must have a fighting spirit and be able to fight. Nevertheless, we all play the “war game” in our childhood, and it seems cool, being a challenge, not the aggression.

And next to Tula, in Yasnaya Polyana, Leo Tolstoy, one of the greatest humanist writers, was born and buried. He fought at war, and then said a lot about it. We can only guess the words he’d chose now.

The title of the story is the Russian idiom for ‘Carrot and stick': the government gratifies people with gingerbread and scares with a whip. Beside weapons, Tula is very famous for its gingerbreads.