26 April 2011

Russian Easter: us and them

This weekend, Aleksandr Dugin published a fiercely patriotic article about the Russian Easter. Here are the excerpts that I translated:

"Christian faith is the Russian faith. They will object: Orthodoxy is a universalist Church open to all of mankind. To identify it with Russians is to restrict its meaning, relegating it to the status of a national religion. There is a notion of the "heresy of filetism", i.e. the "love for one's people". For the enemies of Orthodoxy - especially those among Western Christians - this is the central argument against Byzantium and against Rus'. [...] But what are they to us, those who abolished the sacred Julian Calendar, those who give up the very basis of Orthodoxy for the the needs of the Uniates...What are they to us, my friends..."


"In the Russian Easter there is the resurrected nature of the world, our nature, mother-desert, luxurious, like a lady, like a virgin, like a universal acute painful comfort. Suffer with us, die with us, kill with us, sing with us, come with us, disappear in us, be buried with us, fast with us, prostrate yourselves with us, disappear with us, love with us, hate with us, in order to be resurrected with us, to enter the Russian Easter, the great Passover of Christ."

"The fact that Russians are a great people is an axiom, it cannot be proven, since it does not require proof. True greatness does not humiliate others, does not make them less significant. Just as the resurrection does not kill them, does not trample them, but saves them. True greatness elevates everything it touches. There is no hatred toward it, only delight, joy, merriment, and love. This is dancing greatness."

I photographed fellow Russians participating in an Easter cross procession here in North America:

22 April 2011

Dreaming of space

Yura: Dreaming of Space

Once upon a time, I regularly created artwork. I freelanced, had a number of things published, and won a couple of competitions -- nothing major, but certainly enough to feel a reasonable sense of accomplishment. Then Plan B gradually pushed out Plan A, and now I struggle to find time to simply practice.

I struggle, but I won't give up.

Though quite rare, my "skill recovery" normally occurs when I convince myself to use weekends, also known as dissertation-writing time, for something equally solitary, but arguably more enjoyable. Two weeks ago, I decided that, fueled by my late Soviet nostalgia, the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight on April 12th was a good enough reason to illustrate.

I drew young Yura in a pioneer uniform, much like the one I wore myself as a child, clutching onto a toy airplane; behind him -- a destroyed city. After all, illustration should be straightforward, and Gagarin grew up during the Second World War, developing a keen interest in aviation early on.

Yet, despite my attempt to be literal, the image turned out somewhat ambivalent and maybe even a bit dystopian. While a non-Russian would likely make some sort of an expected and rather boring comment about the nature of the Soviet regime, I simply blame the chosen media -- black conté crayons, charcoal, pencil, and a touch of scarlet acrylic paint.

Or maybe it's Gagarin's token smile -- more enigmatic than that of Mona Lisa.