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IEEIE #1: The Master and Margarita

IEEIE #1: The Master and Margarita

Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 in Featured, M&M&M, zine |

The kick-off book for the Infinitely-Expandable Extra-Illustration Exchange will be The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. This previous post explains the IEEIE What is The Master and Margarita? It’s a lot of things. It’s magic and history and politics and literature. It’s about the Devil arriving in Moscow in the 1920s and Jesus and Pontius Pilate, censorship and a talking cat. And so much more. It is the book that I have recommended to more people than any other. It is dense and thoughtful and very strange. Want to know more about the book? Masterandmargarita.eu is an amazing compendium of all things M&M (in multiple languages) Here is how the IEEIE works: 1. Read the book. I recommend the Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O’Connor translation, which is recognized as one of the better versions and is based on the complete, uncensored text. The size of the final submission is based on the size of the paperback edition (8.3 x 5.3 inches), which has a maroon and black cover with a silhouette of a cat. There is no ebook version of this translation available right now, and it is one of several translations that often available at used bookstores. Goodreads has a pretty thorough discussion (with text examples) of the different English translations. 2. Make something inspired by the book. This can be anything that is reproducible in a 2D medium (drawing, print, map, poem, essay, recipe, photo, photo of a sculpture, dance diagram… you get the picture, surprise me.) The only rule is that the final, reproducible product must be the same size as the book (8.3 x 5.3 inches, see above). 3. Pass along this link to friends who might like to participate—the more people the better the final collection! 4. Send an email to me and you’ll get occasional updates related to the project: mary@feralresearch.org 5. Email me your item by Good Friday (read the book for the day’s relevance) April 18, 2014. I will compile all the submissions into a pdf booklet for you to download. The first ten people to submit material will receive a hard-copy version of the book via snail-mail, assembled...

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M&M&M Field Trip, Part II

M&M&M Field Trip, Part II

Posted by on Nov 2, 2013 in Featured, Fieldtrips, M&M&M |

After failing to see the Bulgakov museums, the guide took my mother and I to Bulgakov’s burial site: the cemetery at Novodevichy Convent. It was opened in 1989 and is filled with the graves of important Soviet-era Russians. After a bit of searching–the place covers several acres of densely-packed markers below a cover of pine trees–we found Bulgakov’s gravestone. Bulgakov’s grave was completely unremarkable except for it’s rather lumpy appearance. I mention it only as an excuse to tell you about the rest of the cemetery, which was amazing. I’m a fan of cemeteries. I love seeing the care put into cutting stone before water jets and laser etching took the human hand out of the marking of graves. I love wandering around quiet parks, and cemeteries are made for quiet contemplation. I love the implied stories. And I love to see how different cultures honor their dead. I visited a pet cemetery on a private estate in Ireland that had small marble stones for each of their dogs, marked with a description of their personalities. I’ve visited small cemeteries next to tiny mission churches in New Mexico where the markers, exposed to the sun and the sky in a landscape without trees, feel small and lost. I’ve been to pauper’s graves marking unknown immigrants that died trying to cross the Arizona desert. And I’ve strolled along the stone-lined streets of the Buenos Ares cemetery that resembled a tiny urban city with rows intricately-formed sarcophagi lining the streets. The New Maiden’s Cemetery at first glance looked like many I had visited before, in deep shade with neatly-tended lanes of unique markers. But I’ve never seen anything like it: an atheist cemetery. (That’s not precisely true. There is an occasional cross–Gogol’s grave, which was moved to the cemetery, has one, though apparently his marker has gone through several changes over the decades–or other religious marker.) It’s a cemetery dedicated to honor individual’s contribution to the state. Military cemeteries honor service to a country, but the lines of identical markers make an individual grave melt into the mass, reinforcing their role of of one among thousands. And even these graves, set...

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M&M&M Field Trip, Part I

M&M&M Field Trip, Part I

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in Featured, Fieldtrips, M&M&M |

A few years ago my mother took me on an educational tourist trip to Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. We got a private guide for the day in Moscow, and I requested that we visit the Bulgakov Museum. I had done a bit of research before we came, and knew that (according to Wikipedia) there were two competing Bulgakov museums taking up the upper and lower floors of his residence, each claiming to the the real Bulgakov Museum. Apparently I hadn’t done quite enough research, because we discovered that both of the museums were closed that day. I had heard for years about the fan-graffiti-covered walls of the staircase in one of the museums. The graffiti and the museum collection had been vandalized by a religious extremist a few years before, so I’m not sure how much I missed. I satisfied myself with a photo next to a bronze sculpture of a couple of the main characters and a very drizzly visit to the nearby Patriarch’s Ponds, the first scene in the novel. Of course Bulgakov’s memory would be presented by two fighting museums (one official, one not?). Of course the museum would be attacked by a crazy man calling it satanic. What would be more appropriate for the author of this book that examines Russia’s relationship with religion, power, and truth? FRC’s s. forwarded me a reference to a third Bulgakov museum located in Kiev in his childhood home: the Literature-Memorial Museum to Mikhail Bulgakov. I wish I had known about it when I was in Ukraine: it sounds wonderful. The Uncataloged Museum has a great description/review of the place, which blends historical/family items with fictional narrative in a way that looks like it would suit the subject...

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M&M&M: Prologue

M&M&M: Prologue

Posted by on Oct 13, 2013 in Featured, M&M&M |

Several years ago, I was one of four artists commissioned to create a design for a nearby town’s library card. My project manager let me know after I took the assignment that since the funding for the cards came from the city bus department, we were being asked to do a design on the theme of “books and alternate modes of transportation”. After puzzling over the silly assignment for a while, I tried to come up with scenes in classic literature that involved pubic transit. One popped into my head immediately: an early scene in Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita where a cat attempts to board a streetcar, pay the fare, gets kicked off, and jumps on the back for a free ride. It was one of my favorite books from a Modern Russian Literature course in college, and the scene had stuck with me. Thinking about the experience of being in two worlds at the same time when reading a book on a bus, I decided to blend the worlds of me on a city bus with the scene from the novel. The result was an image of me, sitting on a bus, reading M&M. The skyline of Moscow can be seen through the bus windows, and the cat looks in, peering over my shoulder at the book. The book’s library call number was printed at the bottom of the card. The public art committee met and approved the card design. The project manager then realized that she had shown the committee an unfinished version of the design, and asked me if I would be OK with using the unfinished version. I told her I would think about it over the weekend. She took the time to look up the book on Amazon, and found several reviews by Christians who called it blasphemous (I told her the general plot of the book before starting the design, but had framed it in terms of a political satire rather than a book about religion). On Monday she called, saying she was afraid that the card would draw protests at the library, and asked me to remove references to the book...

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