By Susan M. Griffith-Jones
Popping up out of nowhere as if to complete the Moscow circle of associates, Alexander offers to take us on a night tour of Moscow. Later when I check the map, I see that he has driven us in a perfect spiral around the city, winding out from the Kremlin at its centre, circling that unique fortress of Russian architecture and historical value, passing the Bolshoi Theatre and bending round to the other side of the Moskva river amidst newly decorated riverside glamour. On to the University building, an old Stalin skyscraper standing proudly against the skyline at one of the city’s highest points and spinning round to finish up at the beautiful Novodevechy monastery. Doing a big round of the whole, we then shoot out of the spiral in a direct line to the south, where he drops us at Marina’s apartment in the suburbs of the city.
I don’t think that Alexander intended this route, but it is so that we cannot avoid spiraling… it is part of who we are. Our DNA and energy spirals, so do our bodies spin when we dance, along with the earth, the solar system and galaxy. Everything is turning round and round.
Marina tells me of an ancient Slavic language that she is learning and shows me the book. I am captivated by diagrams of the letters that depict vibrations of twirling lines emerging from pictures of humans and our bodily and mental functions. When I am in Russia, one of my favourite pastimes is reading Cyrillic signs and words, but the twenty years that have passed between me living here and returning have shaded my knowledge of the language enormously. So while Marina’s student, Irina busily translates the flow between Russian and English languages, we discuss how letters, symbols of our communicative expression throughout the ages, essentially hold the knowledge of existence within them.
This is synonymous with my book, “The Pen, A Way of Writing” (available at bookstores online) that I just launched in Moscow last weekend. Here, a detailed discourse takes place between an unknown observer and a pen that is about to write on a piece of blank paper. The pen is being warned to be extremely careful what it marks onto the page as this will have an irreversible effect on the reader who comes into contact with its symbolic expression, indicating the irrefutable law of cause and effect and an inner meaning describing the union of sound and light as an essential unit of our awareness. Marina has invited me to Russia for us to put together these two aspects through mine and her work.
In order to introduce me to the “Ra Sheeba” techniques that she practises, we go to the park and amongst the apple trees laden with ripening fruit, perform the actions of the symbols with our hands while spontaneously singing whatever tune comes to mind. Union of light and sound at a functional level. Our little group sounds disharmonious, but is this not how our world really sounds as each of us perform our own rhythm of being. I ponder to myself how general unease is probably due to a continuous battle to harmonise ourselves together within the greater cosmic tune.
Maybe I’m going off at a tangent here, but the previous day we happened to traipse the corridors of the famous Georgian-Russian painter, Zurab Tsereteli’s gallery. Whereas in a sarcastic tone most of his painted art depicts peasants holding broomsticks and chickens, a huge hanger houses an enormous metal apple in the centre of it. There are other sculptures around and I do the round before venturing through a pair of opened hands and inside the hollow apple, where I stop, aghast. At first, I am engulfed by two large statues of Adam and Eve held in a poised dance in the centre and it is only when I carry my gaze further that I realize the entire walls are covered with metal sculptured figures of men and women in different poses. Marina warns me, “Susan, it’s Russian Kama Sutra!”
This does not feel like a gross interpretation of overt sexual conduct, but more like an expression of creation, union of male and female, of light and sound, the spinning procreative spinning life force that keeps the universe in motion. Brilliant! I sit a while and listen to Marina sing a tune that brings these energetic expressions of essential universal harmony, to life.
Just to top it all, as we are leaving Moscow on the Trans-Siberian railway route, I pull out an apple that has made it from the UK to here in the bottom corner of my handbag and in my memory rename Moscow, ‘The Enormous Apple’!
I have absolutely no idea what to expect the next day as we exit the train in Kazan, capital city of Tatarstan. All I know is that from here our first stop is the old historical Islamic city of Bulgari. En route Marina buys a bucket of raspberries from a farmer with a makeshift table of wares by the side of the road and I ask if this heralds the ‘raspberry’ section of our journey. But this region has another fruit that is being dug up from nearly every field we pass, small drills pulling and extracting it from every corner. Tatarstan is bulging from the spoils of the petroleum industry, but we are not here for this game.
Bulgari lies on the banks of the confluence point of the huge Volga and Kama rivers. They have made a big deal out of this place and there’s even a landing point for cruise ships to offload their cargo into a well done, highly informative museum with touch screen information panels telling you about the site in three languages.
What jumps out at me is that this is a place where Muslims and Christians have lived and worshipped together at the same time, and still do in the nearby towns. We wait until evening and high up on the cliff above the river, Marina asks me to present my photo collage artwork to the group. There’s no screen and computer to run Powerpoint off here, but I have printed out and laminated my work.
After shaking out my scarf as a seat on the dusty earth, I lay the pictures in front of me. I feel relaxed here. It seems natural to present the essential truths lying within my geometric art in such an environment where people worshipping them from different angles live together in peace and the elements rest balanced upon a stage adorned with a backdrop sky harmoniously coloured with the rainbow show of sunset.
That night we stay in the home of a lady who is part of the group. A large bowl of raspberries takes central place upon the dinner table, their significance yet to reveal itself.
To be continued…
Susan’s website may be found at www.pyramidkey.com