". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ship Wrecks and Dickheads

Friday we walked through the Met's "Art and Love in Renaissance Italy" exhibit, which was largely uninteresting. NY Times review here.

Too many dishes, we thought, even if the dishware is maiolica. We're the plebian sort, generally interested in plates as far as what is on them is for us to eat. We gave most of the objects and paintings cursory attention. As well I was beyond my endurance, in screaming pain, after 3 hours in the "Beyond Babylon" exhibit. But the Met is like that. Once you're there, you keep going because you are forever stumbling on something that takes your breath away. The problem is that destroys me for the rest of the day, and the next one – and that's when I'm lucky. Marble floors and standing are absolutely counter-indicated for someone with my spinal condition.

What was of interest among the many depictions of weddings, pregnancy and childrbirth, couples and clasped hands (emblematic of fidelty), were the round, ornate gift boxes in which the bride then kept the smaller, valuable gifts from her betrothed and others, such as jewels, cosmetics and their ornate containers, sewing tools, encased in their own ornate, gilded and be-jeweled containers, such as needles and pins, and again ornate, gilded and embossed in the perhaps silver chased leather cases, her writing implements. These are not the same object as the canzoni, the huge, ornate chests with narrative painted panels. These are all customs of the wealthy and powerful. What the lower classes do with betrothal, marriage, childbirth and whoredom is not present in these galleries.

There were also a few pornographic – erotic, since this a museum and everything is art? objects included in the section called, if I recall correctly, "Sensual Love." My favorite was a print of a Venetian courtesan, whose skirt can be lifted by the viewer in order to see her nether parts garbed in lace trimmed transparent silk, a 16th c predecessor of the pop-up book. In the exhibit the skirt is permanently lifted by a pin for our delectation.

An exception to the boring maiolica was a plate that memorializes 'The Dickhead.' You can see it too, if you scroll down the screen here.

You can also learn more about "The Dickhead" here.

I badly wanted to visit "Provocative Visions: Race and Identity—Selections from the Permanent Collection, but I could hardly walk, so we went home. The pain was worth it.

"The Wreck of the ship Ululubrun", i.e. "Beyond Babylon," where we spent the most time, later.


Graeme said...

wow. that is quite the dickhead. It's too bad you didn't get to see the last collection, but a whole day in a museum on your feet does take a toll. After a bit it is hard to enjoy anything.

Foxessa said...

Welcome back, Graeme! I'm looking forward to reading about how you spent your time in Vietnam.

Love, C.