Thursday, August 18, 2011

ANTINOO (lost youth)

Christopher Pelley   ANTINOO (lost youth)   installation August 2011

Antinous.  The beautiful Bythinian youth and Emperor Hadrian's "beloved" (euphemism) drowned in the Nile in the year 130 AD at the age of 19.  Hadrian had him deified, had temples constructed in his honor across the empire and even built the Antinoeion, a complex of buildings and pools complete with an obelisk at his villa near modern Tivoli to enshrine the memory of this lost youth.
The image of Antinous fascinates me.  So after much looking at it, I began to deconstruct it.  This installation is a super lo-rez image of a bust of the 19 year old at Palazzo Altemps (Museo Nazionale Romano) in Rome.  The sculpture in itself is interesting merely by the fact that it was carved in the second century AD, then heavily "restored" (read re-carved) in the 18th century.  It now presents itself as the classical ideal of beauty as seen through 18th century eyes.   I have tried to interpret this singular bust from a 21st century perspective.  Each pixel of my lo-rez image is a 5cm x 5cm square of painted paper.

But why the resonance?  Why has this image continued to endure through the centuries while so many others have been neglected or forgotten?

Entering as I am into that period of life generously called middle age (another euphemism), I realize now that youth is something to be appreciated (like the lo-rez image) from a distance.

Christopher Pelley   ANTINOO (lost youth)  detail