Magazine article Russian Life

Two Quotes for 2017

Magazine article Russian Life

Two Quotes for 2017

Article excerpt

ON THE MORNING of Saturday, December 10, just as news was breaking of CIA reports that state-sponsored Russian hackers had sought to influence the US presidential election in Donald Trump's favor, I was visiting The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis (a family event had brought us to the Twin Cities).

There I was, standing in the museum's beautiful main hall, surrounded by works by Faberge and Formozov, while outside the Twitterverse and the 24/7 mediocracy was subsumed by stories of cyber this, Putin that, and endless analyses of Trump's ties to the Kremlin.

It was another taste of the dualism that now dominates the Russophile's world, and it made me think of a wonderful quote by Toni Morrison about how artists keep working when the world around them seems to be spinning out of control:

   This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no
   time for despair, no place for self pity, no need for silence, no
   room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how
   civilizations heal ... I know the world is bruised and bleeding,
   and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also
   critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure,
   chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge--even wisdom.
   Like art.

We speak, we write, we do language.

We tell stories.

A bit ironically, by a design set down months ago, two of the feature stories we tell in this issue (Monuments, page 38 and Ivan the Terrible, page 44), as well as the Post Script (page 64), deal with what happens when art becomes a tool of the state, of how the Russian state has sought to refract history through public monuments. …

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