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Russian Novel by Basil King

Basil King sketched forty-three faces with charcoal, and as he sketched them, he began to call them his Russian Novel. When Basil introduced them to me and asked if I would set them to music in a video, I looked forward to the project.

Each face has its own personality, eyes and mouths, but no noses or ears. Perhaps, like the world today, everybody is talking and nobody is listening. They look at you and you look at them. 

Basil chose Dimitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet in D Major, Op. 83. I decided to use the first two movements after laying out the faces. When I think Russian, I also think ballet. I thought of choreographing the faces, as if they were going to the novel, but not there yet, walking through the streets of Moscow jostling each other in the crowds.

They are all in the video below. Enjoy.



Basil King with some of his Faces


Some Other Faces in the Crowd













Basil King’s Illuminations


Basil King reads from Disparate Beasts

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