Monday, April 09, 2007

The Irresistable Arm

While roaming the British Museum last weekend, I noticed that a good deal of the ancient sculpture is out where people can touch it, and that although there is signage here and there telling one that touching the statues causes the stone to deteriorate, certain works seem to invite a lot of handling.
I first noticed this with the monumental Assyrian statues of the five-legged demigods or whatever they might be. People were inclined to reach out and touch their flanks.
Other works, mainly Egyptian, seemed to prompt people to lean against them for photos, as if hugging a lifesized statue of a pharaoh or one of his courtiers made it one of the family. Museum guards made some attempts to deter people from this sort of familiarity.
On the other hand, it appeared that the guards had utterly given up trying to keep people from touching certain other items, like this monumental Egyptian arm. The number of people fondling this arm was so striking, and the flow of new families coming up to pet it so continual, that I decided that (photography being very much permitted) this phenomenon had to be documented. (Note guard minding his own business on the other side of the arm, not long after rescuing pharoah from the embrace of commoners.)

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5 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

I was completely unaware of the ongoing sexually harassment of these works of antiquity at the British Museum. I'm shocked! No wonder they seem so stiff and formal in photographs! Granite goosing and marble massaging is an offense to rocks everywhere, not just those in museums. Thank you for alerting us all to this controversial subject.

P.S. Rabbitoid wants you to read this story about the Jesus Convention, with special guest star, the Easter Bunny.

April 10, 2007 7:55 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!! I will hope that perhaps unknown to us the originals reside in a vault and these are mere copies.

April 10, 2007 9:12 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

I don't think we can be optimistic about this. On the other hand, are we certain that the touching is always sexual in nature? It was clearly affectionate, but as Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And for that matter, are we sure all of the rocks object?

I read about the Jesus Convention all the way to the end and applaud the Easter Bunny defending nature and other deities everywhere against false images of the divine. Away with commercialized religion! (But I think we can keep our chocolate.)

April 10, 2007 11:10 PM  
Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

You can't be serious... Are you an apologist for this sort of behavior? A pat on a colleagues head, or a tap on a backside is not distinctly sexual in nature, and yet they are both definitely forms harassment! Both actions are demeaning to the individual. Whether the statues object or not is immaterial.

Do you want to live in a society that condones this sort of behavior? It seems that the only value that society places on these majestic marble man-made models is merely representational.

Furthermore, these poor edifices are forced to pose all day for stupid tourist pictures! No breaks, no lunch hour, no holidays! The price of fame certainly weighs heavily on these poor overworked forms of art.

Some of these creations are thousands of years old! Is this how we treat our senior stoneware? Once quarried, the hapless masses of consolidated mineral matter are forced into a thankless life of never ending indentured statitude. It's like we are chiseling away at their very existence!

April 11, 2007 12:04 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

Well, I think it's time they got a paid vacation where they can take pictures of the tourists.

April 11, 2007 12:12 AM  

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