Tuesday, June 21, 2016

the gates of hell

Last weekend we went to Museo Soumaya just for this one exhibition – one of Rodin's "La porte de l'enfer", the gates of hell.

Interestingly, I had seen one of these in Tokyo, back in 2008, but that time I had to watch from quite a distance and, now, I could get way closer, up to the very gate itself which, given the richness of its imagery, is the only proper way to see it, I say.

Also, these are considered the most important work of the artist. From these monumental sculptures (there are a total of six gates), many of his most famous individual pieces were extracted – like The Thinker (Le Penseur), The Kiss (Le Baiser) and The Fall (La Chute)!

Rodin was a master at creating a feeling of misshapen chaos, of ungodly movement, of madness. His characters are swallowed by molten tides, they desperately scramble to survive and escape, and some even seem on the verge of managing, though we know there is no escaping the hell we're staring at. 

Sadly, that same day we heard about the horrific mass-shooting at Orlando's Pulse club. This unnecessary, terrifying LGBTQ massacre of 49 individuals was just one of dozens of massacres that have taken place in US soil in 2016. But it helped – what a depressing thing to say, that this hideous incident "helped" – to spark a conversation on what a homo- or queerphobic discourse can generate. Looking at Rodin's gate and it's representation of hell, it's hard not to think about the real hell being lived day-in day-out by trans people, by queer people, by gender non-conforming people, by gay people, by any person that is not heteronormative in looks, feelings or attitudes. 

The difference is, unlike Rodin's hell which is frozen in time, we can – no, we are compelled as members of humane, civilized societies – to fight that hell, to become allies, to reject discrimination and intolerance wherever we may see it or hear it. We cannot behave as museum goers, gawking at madness, even admiring it, and leaving it the same as we saw it.   

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