Memento Mori Theater

Note: I met Olga Taran many years ago by a strange and happy series of coincidences. An interest in Descartes led me to study geometry. Since my education had been haphazard, I required a tutor to work through Euclid. Through Craigslist I met Olga’s husband, Alex, who had taken his math degree from the Moscow Academy of Sciences, and was the best possible teacher. I had my lessons in his home, a rambling Victorian filled with books, art, non-functioning clocks, seashells, curios, scientific instruments, the occasional bit of Soviet kitsch—and Olga’s art. Though I didn’t pursue the math much past calculus, Alex and Olga have remained valued friends, and when I began this magazine, her work was an obvious choice, both for its quality and its otherworldly puppetry. This enormous piece which appears here possibly owes its inspiration to the grim prospects of global warming, covid, and the war in the Ukraine. A careful consideration of the symbols adroitly deployed, particularly the labyrinth which reproduces the hedge maze at Leeds Castle, makes it clear that this is no mere Halloween doll’s house, but a profound sculptural poem. —Jacob Rabinowitz

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