Blog > Mark's Dugout

Deleuze believed that the success of a creative individual depends entirely on how skilled he or she is in inventing something that he regards as essential for a particular art or science. Thus he was convinced that a good philosopher is the one who is capable of inventing a new concept; a good musician is the one who creates a new affect; and good artists are those who discover new percepts. I was reminded of this Deleuzian coefficient of creativity quite recently, when I, together with a group of people, were invited to visit our good friend Mark, or Marik, or even Marioka, but better Marioka Son of Rain who answers also by the name “Marioka Son & Rain.”

The Chisinau artist Mark Verlan (this is his official or given name) invited us, one summer evening, to “try out” his new dugout (zemleanka) that he dug, for who knows how long, next to his studio. This was one of his most recent artistic projects.

In fact, the official plan for this evening was to cook a barbeque (shaslyk) and celebrate one of the guest’s birthday, and so while some of us were preparing the meat, others were trying out the wine, the beer, and the vodka, eight or nine of us responded to Mark’s invitation and went to sit for a while in his brand new dugout. This is Mark’s second dugout, as the first one collapsed one day, we were told. Thus eight or nine of us gathered in front of the dugout’s “entrance” –

– which was in fact a hole in the earth covered by a dog’s hut. We waited nervously to be invited inside. I said nervously because, I was slightly freaking out – “who knows if this dugout won’t collapse like the old one swallowing all eight or nine of us. But, well let’s try it.” We went inside – one after the other – eight, or nine of us. Mark kept saying that there is in fact enough space there to accommodate more people: 30 or even 40 grown men and women of different nationalities. Some of us doubted that his underground shelter was that large, but we went nevertheless down, through the dog’s house feeling like Alice.


All eight or nine of us disappeared under the ground. We went down through the dog’s entrance, crawling like earthworms through the narrow tunnel that lead to the dark inside of the dugout. Creeping through the warm and chernozem-rich Moldovan soil we made it finally inside. Here we sat in darkness joking while sipping from our wine glasses, stumbling on eight or nine pairs of unknown feet, and when one of our cameras’ flashes struck the humid and warm darkness we saw occasionally each other’s faces.

This I thought was what Deleuze meant when he said that a good artist (and Mark is one of them) discovers new percepts, that is new sensations and feelings. Even if you feel like a worm, or a ferret who must spend a large part of life underground – it is worth trying it. Totally! In the meantime Mark kept saying that the dugout would fit another twenty or so grown women and men of different nationalities. Some of us doubted it, but he didn’t care. After spending fifteen or so minutes in the dugout, all eight or nine or us crawled – one after another – slowly back towards the exit, towards the light of the evening.

Octavian Esanu, July 2010.