some lines out of Marina & Sergey Dyachenko’s Vita Nostra from the dark academy & the Ukraine + two works by Ivan Marchuk

Everything would amalgamate in front of her eyes, and then clear again. Strange harsh outlines swam out of the darkness. Sasha saw a city, sharp roof peaks, intertwined ropes and wires; one-dimensional creatures, brown like coffee grounds, jumped over them like fleas on unwashed hair. Resembling check marks drawn with a thick brown marker on a list of groceries, they twitched their legs, wriggled, and then made sudden jerky movements. Sasha would never be able to explain why she found these creatures so repulsive, but every time she shuddered at their appearance.

“Thirty-one. Thirty-two. Thirty-three…”

At “sixty,” the brown check mark insects would notice that they were being watched. They saw or felt Sasha’s presence and crawled closer, up to her very eyes, and moving her head was impossible.

Perfectly defined graphical landscapes unfolded in the background: mountains, arches, building, and towers, a gorgeous and sinister city. The oily pavement glistened, like a carbon-black ear of corn. From one fragment to another the distant landscape changed, filled with details, became three-dimensional; the amount of brown check marks grew with it. They threw themselves at Sasha, like a cluster of starving bedbugs. Lacking arms, unable to breathe, she chased them away the only way she had at her disposal–by concentrating. By staring.

— Marina & Sergey Dyachenko, Vita Nostra, translated by Julia Meitov Hersey, 2018, pp. 215-216

– Ivan Marchuk, From the series New expressions 1994-1997 #431

“Nikolay Valerievich…”


“Am I no longer human?”

“And why is it so important to you?”

Sasha looked up. Sterkh sat across the table from her, calm, benign. His ash-blond hair framed his pale triangular face in two parallel lines.

“I’m serious, Sasha: what is so important about being human? Is it because you simply haven’t experienced anything else?”

“I’m used to it.” Sasha looked down.

— Ibid., pp. 260-261

– Ivan Marchuk, Warning, 1986