Monday, March 24, 2014

André Prah, Walter Murch, and the frozen horses of Lake Ladoga

André Prah and some of his artwork from "The Ice Horses of Ladoga"
Picture source

A couple of things related to Curzio Malaparte's chapter in Kaputt related to the ice horses of Ladoga…

André Prah "started to make his own visual representation of the tragedy. In wood from the shores of the Baltic Sea." The quote is from a Facebook page showing examples of his artwork (also see the photo album on the Facebook page. My favorite post from the page:

After photographing the horses on Lake Ladoga's ice, it was time for the three of us, Heimerson the reporter, Lundgren the photographer, and myself to leave Russia. At the border a stern-looking customs officer pointed at the horses in the trunk and required an explanation. The photographer then pointed at me and said: "The artist is mentally disturbed. Cuckoo." With an embarrassed smile, the customs officer politely replied: "Please proceed."

Radiolab recently had a podcast that includes discussion on Malaparte's story: the link can be found here. The guys at Radiolab focus on the story of the frozen horses of Lake Ladoga and the science behind it—could it have possibly happened? The results are interesting, even if they have no bearing on whether it actually happened. Walter Murch, last seen on this blog for his translation of selected works of Malaparte (The Bird that Swallowed its Cage: The Selected Writings of Curzio Malaparte), discusses how he came to discover Malaparte's writing. To his credit, Murch emphasizes that Malaparte mixed fact and fiction, implying that just because he wrote a chapter on this incident it doesn't mean it happened. There's a reason Kaputt is in the fiction section, after all. But the science behind the possibility of it happening is still interesting.

Update: Thanks to Øystein for the following YouTube link to a scene from My Winnipeg (The Cold Winter of 1926) and more ice horses. It definitely looks like Malaparte inspired this scene.


Øystein said...

For more ice horses (I believe inspired by Kaputt) there's the movie My Winnepeg:

Adorably, the person I watched this with was convinced this scene was factual.

seraillon said...

I love it when fictions generate other artworks. That's certainly one of the most memorable scenes in a book chock full of memorable scenes. Malaparte is so great at being able to create a fiction that seems more plausible than reality itself: a brilliant response to war and atrocity.

Dwight said...

Øystein: thanks so much for that link! I was laughing so hard the first time about the squirrel (it reminded me of a favorite scene from Bio-Dome…yeah, I'll admit it) that I had to watch it again to appreciate how well they did the horses. It definitely looks like Malaparte inspired that part of the story.

Scott, you mailed it on Malaparte, and even when reading his journalism in The Volga Rises in Europe I wondered how much was fabrication to make the point or create the symbolism he wanted to show.