6.07.2010

The Spirit of Evil



Completed my second piece for the show. I know I said I wasn't going to post EVERYTHING but it's hard sometimes, especially since I'm trying to keep this blog active. Anyway, as I said before this is based on the short story Viy by Nikolai Gogol. Here's a little synopsis of the particular part that inspired this, just because it's so cool:

"On the first night, when the Cossacks take her body to a ruined church, he is somewhat frightened but calms himself when he lights more candles in the church to eliminate most of the darkness, other than that above him. As he begins to say prayers, he imagines to himself that the corpse is getting up, but it never does. Suddenly, however, he looks up and finds that the witch is sitting up in her coffin. She begins to walk around, reaching out for someone, and starts to approach to Khoma, but he draws a circle of protection around himself that she cannot cross. She gnashes her teeth at him as he begins to exorcise her, and then she goes into her coffin and flies about the church in it, trying to frighten him out of the circle. Dawn arrives, and he has survived the first night.

The next night similar events occur, but more horrible than before, and the witch calls upon unseen, winged demons and monsters to fly about outside the church. When the Cossacks find the philosopher in the morning, he is near death, pale and leaning against a wall. He tries to escape the next day but is captured and brought back to finish.

On the third night the witch’s corpse is even more terrifying and she calls the demons and monsters around her to bring Viy into the church, who can see everything. Khoma realizes that he cannot look at the creature when they draw his long eyelids up from the floor so he can see, but he does anyway and sees a horrible, iron face staring at him. Viy points in his direction and the monsters leap upon him. Khoma is dead from horror. However, they miss the first crowing of the rooster and are unable to escape the church when day begins."


Basically a priest is asked to sit a vigil with a dead witch for three nights and each night she terrorizes him. The characteristics of Viy himself are actually based on Russian beliefs surrounding St. John Cassian who was depicted with eyebrows down to his knees which he lifted once a year (on his feast day) to cast an evil eye on the whole world. I really like the way Christianity was sort of folded into traditional folk beliefs in Russia (though I would naturally prefer it if Christianity was never imposed at all!) with a lot of borrowing and integration and a complete disinterest in abandoning superstition and supernatural beliefs. Really neat. Here are two close ups:
I will say that composing in an inverted cross shape is incredibly stupid and challenging. I have another one planned that should work really well but I don't know if I'll be able to get through all eight.

In other news please check out this interview Denis did with Melissa Farley who is one of the most talented photographers I know!

4 comments:

Splat Bat said...

it looks great!! they're all coming out awesome!

Amy Duncan said...

I agree, these crosses are looking so nice...her face is perfect.

wanderinggenie said...

thank you, guys!!

Justin Catania said...

i especially like the 4 headed, demon-dog-bull. ha. they look great.