Happily Ever After Gogol

Corborundum print on recycled textile
different sizes, 2021

I spent the second corona year rereading Old world landowners, a less known story by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol – 19th century writer, born in Ukraine and one of the first great Russian classics.
This short story from 1835 symbolizes for me the life during the covid lock downs and led to series of works under the title Happily Ever After Gogol.

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In this story Gogol lovingly and with great sense of humor describes an ‘elderly’ couple ( 55 and 60 years ) who live in their cozy, beautiful and isolated estate somewhere in Ukraine. Pulcheria Ivanovna and Afanasii Ivanovich spend their life together in happiness and contentment. They enjoy receiving guests, tasty food is prepared for them, alcohol is served in abundance to the guests of the house, they often walk hand-in-hand in their paradise-like gardens of fruits and flowers.
This reminds me of the quiet and serene life which many of us led during the period of the pandemic: limited options but appreciating every small entertainment or contact we had.
This project became an autobiographical reflection on that period and the domesticity of our lifestyle of those days.

The works in this series are made in the carborundum printing technique on all types of household textiles. Many of the images are based on my own household objects and some textile prints are finished on traditional lacework.

The random tableware which I inscribed with the full text of the story was a central piece for the installation in my studio in April 2023.
Each cup or plate I found in second hand shops carries it’s own little piece of Gogol’s wonderful sentences. It was a true joy for me to write it using special ceramic ink and arranging the set to emphasize the theme of food so central to this story.

To present this series with more depth and understanding I asked five experts to talk about topics related to Russia, to Gogol and to this story.

After the introduction video you can see registrations of presentations in the following 5 videos.

With thanks to:

  • Michel Krielaars, journalist and author.
  • Alla Vein, neurologist.
  • Tamar van den Dop, actress and filmmaker.
  • Reneé Jones-Bos, Dutch diplomat and former ambassador in Russia.
  • Louise Fresco, food scientist and author.

Works in the series

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Epiloque ( Ne Gogol ) Seven and One Deadly Sins