My new artists’ book in progress: pas de deux – Nabokov’s blues
This project relates to the fact, that the Russian / American author Vladimir Nabokov, best known for novels like “Lolita” and “Pale Fire” had a parallel existence as a self-taught expert on butterflies.
He was writing his novels in 2 languages, Russian and later in English. He also translated his own Russian novels into English.
In 1941 he was the curator of lepidoptera at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, and he collected the insects across the United States. He published detailed descriptions of hundreds of species.
In 1945, he came up with a hypothesis for the evolution of the butterflies he studied, the Polyommatus blues.
He envisioned them coming to the New World (the Americas) from Asia (Siberia) over the Bering Strait over 10 millions of years in a series of waves.
In 2011 Dr. Pierce, Harvard biology professor and curator of Lepidoptera, and her colleagues found through DNA sequencing techniques that the New World species shared a common ancestor that lived about 11 million years ago. The reconstruction of the evolutionary tree of the blues gave them an estimate when the branches split. She and her colleagues concluded that five waves of butterflies came from Asia to the New World — just as Nabokov had speculated.
I am interested to visualize the opposite movements and parallel relation of V.Nabokov and the evolutionary migration of the butterflies Polyommatus blues. I am looking for a visual translation of this parallelism into an artists’ book form. The work will relate to time (geological, biological, spatial) evolution, language, parallelism and detail. Detail as butterflies represent a detail in our lives, as V.N. paid enormous attention to detail, as every material, formal and linguistic choice I’ll make, will hopefully create the “supremacy of the detail over the general, … of the little thing, which a man observes … while the crowd .. is being driven by some common impulse to some common goal.” V.N. The Art of Literature and Commonsense.