Inexplicable Magic of Art
Maria Makarova is a true master of expressing feelings through different artistic means. She is able to fill the space around her with deepest thoughts, emotions, words, and movements. In her interview with the Global Women Media news agency, the director and poet spoke about literature and theatre as about two similar and at the same time different worlds. They both make it possible to have a powerful and almost mystical impact on people.
director, poet, philologist, actress
Maria Makarova is a talented artist who creates lively and incredibly deep paintings without a canvas or paints. Through her creativity, she penetrates into all the space around her. The expert perceives art as an integral part of human life.
Maria Makarova is a director and actress possessing the magic of ‘reincarnation’ and knowing how to speak the body language. She is a costume designer and decorator capable of using the smallest details to turn a simple room into a fairy-tale world and people into fairy-tale characters. She is also a poet and philologist aware of the tremendous creative and destructive power of words. Her being so multi-faceted and having a deep vision of the world, art, and creativity make communication with Maria Makarova infinitely interesting.
– Maria, you are a very creative person. How did your path in art begin? How did you manage to join together literature and theatre, the two facets of your art?
– I have a long literary background. I have always written, read, and performed a lot. I have published poems in various publishing houses, almanacs, and anthologies. When I was 15-16 years old, I was even invited to give lectures at the Pushkin Institute of Russian Literature. I taught a class in rhetoric to second-year students, which, of course, was a great honour for me.
However, at some moment, I realized that words were not enough for my self-expression. I wanted to express myself through my thoughts, feelings, actions, movements, and visualization. That’s how theatre came into my life. We can be called ‘best friends’ with it now.
The decision to devote my life to directing was spontaneous and unexpected even for me. It may seem strange but I never liked going to the theatre, even though my parents put every effort to make me interested in it. I don’t know why I changed my mind but I remember that, at a certain moment, I understood: I had no idea what else I wanted to do except for becoming a director.
I chose not classical or dramatic theatre but the directing of theatrical performances. That’s a very broad speciality including directing shows, public events, circus acts, and regular performances. We can say that my profession covers absolutely all kinds of theatrical activities.
On the one hand, literature and directing have some points of contact when they are very close to each other. On the other hand, they are two very different worlds, in which different languages are spoken.
In literature and poetry, the author expresses his or her thoughts and feelings in words. It may seem simple at first glance but sometimes it takes great talent and almost jewel-like literary work to reflect the fullness of inner feelings in a short phrase.
At the same time, in theatre, the word takes second place. I am deeply convinced that a good production can be understood even without the actors’ lines. The costumes, the music, and, most importantly, the movements and plasticity express a lot instead of words. Body language is very complex and specific but I am incredibly fascinated by that form of expressing an idea.
– What are your most significant artistic projects?
– I really liked the work we did jointly with the Department of Culture of Moscow in the winter two years ago. It was a holiday project dated to coincide with New Year’s Eve. The initiative combined several New Year’s performances and immersive plays. My team and I staged performances at numerous venues in Moscow for a month and a half. They were insanely interesting and bright. New Year’s glitter that we can usually see on Christmas trees was the decorative element of our costumes. I especially loved the intensity of our creative life: we worked day and night and constantly came up with new performances.
I see creativity in the process of creating something new. I am fascinated by the very fact that each new performance and each new poem are always different from anything we have done before.
The second particularly valuable project for me was realized by two of my close friends and me. We rented a loft, a very interesting windowless space, inside of which there was probably the biggest labyrinth in Moscow. There we organised quests with unusual plots, tasks, and actors. There we also staged plays. We transformed the entire space into a large artistic world starting from the very threshold.
It was a unique and unparalleled project. We worked out our own costumes, props, ideas for performances, and plots for quests. Even if the basis was borrowed from well-known works (for example, Alice in Wonderland), we have always supplemented them in accordance with our creative vision.
If speaking about literature, the collections in which my works were published are very important to me. Thus, during my cooperation with the Pushkin Institute of Russian Literature, a series of books called ‘Dialogue with Likhachev’ was published. Each book included works by different authors on a certain topic: life, time, youth... It was a very valuable experience because a lot of my poems were included in the book series. I later presented them to the public more than once.
– You’ve talked a lot about theatre. What does literature mean to you? What meanings do you put into your poetry?
– For me, literature is a separate world, in which I can create whatever I want as an author. I truly believe in a peculiar magic of art. All my poems always come true after a month, a year, or several years. Oftentimes, when I reread my poems, I understand that what I wrote about long ago has come into my life.
Almost the same takes place in theatre. I've heard many times and know from my own experience and that of my fellow actors that, sometimes, after playing a particular role, one becomes closer to the story of that character in real life.
Perhaps, immersion in a character’s fate forms a certain mindset in us. It ‘draws’ some events to us. I believe not only in psychology but also in the magical power of art.
In literature, I like the combination of precise and beautiful rhyme, images, and the sincere expression of the author’s natural feelings. For me, this is something I just can’t resist. For me, poetry has long been my primary way of expressing my view of everything happening around me.
However, I can’t say that I write about everything. For example, I don’t write about politics or any pressing social issues. I am fascinated by life stories about the present and the future. I never lie because, in my opinion, in sentimental poetry this is simply impossible. Sometimes, when writing about something that hasn’t happened yet, I describe it as I see it. In that respect, poetry is probably one of the most frank and sincere ways of expressing thoughts.
– One of the websites announcing your creative evening said that your poetry has a healing effect. What is this healing quality of the word? How does poetry affect people in general?
– It’s difficult for me to describe it in words. Poems have the power to involve and to envelop you. There’s a phrase saying “You wash over me like a wave”. It reflects the feeling I get from being in contact with poetry very accurately.
I know many examples of people coming to poetry evenings who are sad at heart. I also know examples when even sad poetry, which could seemingly only intensify their feelings, has healed them. If the author or reader knows how to fill beautiful words with a living feeling, warmth, kindness, hope for the best, faith, and love, then the listener will feel better, no matter how sad the story is. I really like the phrase saying that “sadness is light”. It’s about good poetry.
If a poet is a talented and sensitive person, he or she is able to put a spark into his or her poems. That spark gives us light and warmth.
Words themselves have great power. A lot depends on who uses them and what he or she pursues. If a person’s heart is filled with love, he or she can use words to create, to heal, to unite, and to inspire. If his or her heart contains nothing but anger, resentment, and indifference, his or her words will only hurt and destroy. Therefore, talent alone is not enough for poetry. A deep inner filling is important.
– You regularly hold creative evenings. What is the most valuable thing for a poet in such live meetings? Why are these events important to you? What is the difference between reading a poem aloud and having it printed in a book?
– The most valuable thing in such live meetings is about being able to establish contact with the audience. At the moment you read a poem, you turn your soul ‘inside out’. Of course, in this case, you expect a reaction from the listener. It’s not so much about applause. It is rather about an internal response. Poems can evoke visible and invisible emotions, provoke reflection and search for answers to questions.
Of course, reading aloud and publishing a poem online or on paper are not the same things. All people have different way of reading even the same works aloud. They have different accents, pauses, and intonation patterns in addition to the uniqueness of their voice. Each of us also puts different meanings, associations, and images into what we read because of being guided by our own experience.
They say that poems come to life when the author first voices them. At that moment, they sound exactly as the poet conceived them.
For me, creative evenings are also a way to express my feelings and emotions, to share them with people interested in my work. This is very important for authors.
– You taught at the Pushkin Institute of Russian Literature and now continue to interact with students. How is it possible to bring up the younger generation’s love and sincere interest in art? What can teachers, parents, artists, and authors do for that?
– When a person is passionate about what he or she does, it is often contagious for those around him or her. However, this does not work all the time with everyone. Much depends on the students themselves: on how much they want to immerse themselves in the new world.
I believe that the love of art is always born suddenly. It rarely happens that a person goes to museums, listens to classical music, and gradually comes from indifference to passion. It more often happens that he or she once finds ‘his’ or ‘her’ art that echoes in his or her heart. Then love at first sight takes place.
Probably, a lot can depend on the situation. For example, when a person is lonely, he or she opens a book and, if that’s the right literature, he or she finds a whole missing world in it. Of course, after that the person becomes more interested in reading because he or she has felt its magical power.
For me, art is an endless abyss interesting to dive into. It is very important to make sure that teachers or parents show children the breadth and uniqueness of such a field for creative exploration. The Black Square by Kazimir Malevich is probably the most striking example here. If you just look at the picture, it seems to be just a boring image. However, if you go deeper into getting to know it, learn more about the artist, painting, and art history, then The Black Square becomes a real whirlpool drawing you into it.
The depth of meaning and the infinity of riddles to be solved or questions to be answered are main things that fascinate people in art.
I believe that only the shallowest people who don’t like to think and feel will refuse the temptation to get in touch with art. I see the mission of teachers, parents, and the artists themselves in shaping the need for people to be interested, inquisitive, and thirsty for discovery and new knowledge.
– Do you have any favourite writers?
– I have one favourite author whom I will never betray. It’s Marina Tsvetaeva. I even wrote and dedicated several of my poems to her. I can say we had an entire dialogue.
As you know, if a person isn’t alive, that doesn’t mean we can’t talk to him or her. That’s one of the most valuable facets of literature. It can connect people and their thoughts through the ages.
I even went to Tarusa to Marina Tsvetaeva’s Stone. There happened another mystical story in my life. I sat down to talk to the stone and could not get away from it. I was literally pinned to the ground and it was hard to stand up. This inexplicable phenomenon convinced me once again that life and art are full of amazing things.
– As an artist in the broadest sense of the word, what would you wish people of the world?
– I would like to wish people to never ignore small details and always be attentive to the surrounding world. When we start paying attention to the little things and begin to consider the details, everything around comes alive and starts being filled with meaning. Everything acquires its reason and does not allow us to pass by and remain indifferent. This is the kind of magic I believe in so much.
I wish people all over the world to look at life from an extraordinary perspective. Try to notice what others do not notice and strive to feel everything and live each moment to the fullest. Being in contact with art, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to learn to see the world in a more multi-faceted and volumetric way. You should only give it a try.
Viktoria Gusakova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov