Friday 19 March 2010

Pompeii, Italy

For several years I have been fascinated by these figures that lay within a glass case on the edge of the Garden of the Fugitives here in Pompeii. In total, 13 'body spaces' where people fleeing the hot volcanic ash from Vesuvius's eruption were caught in the fall out. Interestingly, in his book Living Pictures, Missing persons, Mark B. Sandberg describes these figures as "Concave bodily indentations....where the corporeal form is outlined, not by the flesh, bone and skin but by the array of objects and clothing that mark the boundaries where it should be, but is not". The figures are of course not casts of bodies but that of the spaces and the voids where bodies once lay and therefore, as Sandberg describes it, "they appear substantial in absentia". It is always quite moving to see these figures and one cant help but feel a sense of mortality. They are eery in as much as we can see figures almost attempting to crawl away, dogs are asleep and figures of young children curled up protecting themselves from the falling ash. One cant help but feel moved too.

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