Russian artist and UX designer Mariia Fedorova is hunting for lockdown anecdotes to be turned into ancient Russian fairytales.
Fedorova rewrites, illustrates, and animates the stories for the Artwork Pandemic Chronotope / The Firebird Fairytale project, which will publish new stories every Sunday from June to September.
The first episode features a real-life story from a young woman plagued by inner conflict after being asked to help an elderly neighbour who had become trapped in the building’s elevator. She is terrified both by leaving her neighbour helpless and by risking physical contact with others during lockdown. In Fedorova’s fairy tale rendering, coronavirus becomes “a dark unknown force that completely defeats humans”, and the elevator is “a vertical carriage”.
“Once Vasilisa came outside, her heart suddenly was filled with sadness. She was tired of avoiding every creature, and remembered the Firebird which dwells in the distant garden,” the fairytale reads. “‘How great would it be to catch the Firebird now, or at least to find a feather… It would brighten up this damned darkness!’ But how could she get to the garden, when flying-carpets do not fly, and steel horses stand motionless?”
Fedorova says was inspired to turn real coronavirus stories into fairytales due to the uncertainty and urban myths that the pandemic itself has generated. “Human beings, by their nature, cannot deal with an undefined world,” Fedorova told The Calvert Journal. “I thought that experiencing quarantine is more or less similar in many countries — we share similar feelings, restrictions on our lives, and confusion. Such parallels reminded me that the old folk tales of different nations also have a lot of similarities in images, plots, and characters. Fairytales, above all, functioned as a representation of life at a certain moment. They can also show the spirit of ‘unreality’ in what is now happening.”