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For in this lethargic world

Perpetually prey to old remorse

The only laughter to still make sense

Is that of death’s heads.

Paul Verlaine

Kotelnikov has not changed his slightly wild, cheerful manner over the years. He talks about serious matters in the unartificial ways of a child, a trait typical of St. Petersburg's “new artists” of the 1980s. “M.Mouse” is how the child would write the name of the biblical city of Emmaus, in which the disciples saw Christ arise. At the same time, the picture resembles a vanitas still-life, which tells of the futility of being. However, the skull on a black background does not look sorrowful surrounded by characters from the fairy tales: the Nutcracker, the Egg, the Turnip. Even a scalpel and a syringe do not look threatening. The cycle of life is gently unfolding around the grinning symbol of death. V

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