Italian Cemetery Statue

Italian Cemetary Statue480
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2 Essays

  1. wollha01 says:

    While the statue in the photograph is very beautiful, what does it mean to me? In order to answer this question, I’ll need to analyze the photograph to see the picture better as a whole. Using the Compositional Interpretation method, I can see different aspects of the photograph and how it was made to be seen. Each person views art in a different way so my interpretation will be very different than the interpretation of someone else. “It is crucial to look very carefully at the image or images in which you are interested, because the image itself has its own effects. These effects are always embedded in social practices, of course, and may well be negotiated by the image’s audiences” (Rose 56).
    The colors in the photo have a low amount of saturation. Aside from the plant in the front, the colors of the statue and wall behind the statue have a high value. It’s really cool to see the statue in comparison to the plant. Along with the plant, the moss on the box and the statue cause them to look much older, but also more like they belong where they are.
    I think that it is very interesting that the photographer chose to use deep focus and include everything in the photograph to be in focus. While everything is in focus, the plant at the bottom of the photograph blocks some of the statue. It makes me wonder if she is holding anything in her right hand.
    The provenance of the statue also peaks my interest. I hardly ever see statues in cemeteries, so to see one of a woman in a cemetery is even more remarkable. The framing of the image does not allow me to see where in the cemetery this statue is located, but I would assume that the box she is against would contain a casket and at her feet is a tombstone of some sorts. I am assuming that the woman is a representation of someone who has passed on. Because of her upright position, I came to understand that she was not dead, but resting. Now, because the woman is resting on the box behind her, I get the feeling that maybe she is waiting for something. The woman also appears to be dressed in a formal attire which causes me to think that maybe she is dressed nicely for the funeral. She could be a widow or daughter who was left behind.
    It looks like there is a white ring around the woman’s left wrist. It is as if there was some sort of bracelet or item on her wrist that she wore for awhile that protected it from the moss and dirt. I also noticed that her left shoulder appears to be uncovered. The shoulder of the dress seems to have fallen off. It is possible that the uncovered shoulder represents how she has been waiting for a long time and is starting to get uncomfortable.
    The kneeling position in which the woman is resting is interesting because it does not look very comfortable for her to remain in forever. It’s also interesting to note that the photograph is labeled “Italian Cemetery Statue” because nothing about the photo would otherwise indicate that it is located in Italy.
    Using the Structural-Functional Theory, I can conclude that each aspect of this picture is necessary to fully understand the picture as a whole. And while this is one way to look at this photograph, it is not the only way to look at it. “The viewer’s process of deciphering an image takes place at both the conscious and unconscious levels. It brings into play our own memories, knowledge, and cultural frameworks, as well as the image itself and the dominant meanings that cling to it” (Sturken 78). So while my interpretation of this picture is valid, someone else might have an opposing view of it which would also be valid.

    Works Cited
    Rose, Gillian. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. 4th
    ed., Sage, 2016.
    Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking An Introduction to Visual Culture.
    3rd ed., Oxford, 2018.

  2. ashle3c says:

    Collapsed, it seems, on a tombstone, the photo taken by Rachel Tanur tilted “Italian Cemetery Statue,” displays a statue of a woman who we may presume is in mourning of another. The vague title of this piece seems to contrast its dramatic and emotionally captivating contents leading to a potential variety of interpretations.

    Before interpretation, however, the immediately available information, from the title and within the photograph itself, must first be considered. The reality of this statue being in an Italian cemetery begs us to consider the religious potential of this statue and the meaning it wishes to portray. Due to Catholicism that marks Italy’s historic and continued identity, one must question if this woman is meant to represent Mary or another female figure from the bible. The statue of this woman is variously puzzling, not just surrounding her identity, but also her disposition. Her defeated body language, where she leans heavily on the tombstone, her dress and hair draping off of it with the same heavy intensity, is completely juxtaposed with her facial expression. Her closed eyes and neutral mouth brings into question her true emotion and nature. Is she drained of all emotion? Is she at peace? Is she asleep? Has she passed away?

    Another interesting element we find is the green surrounding this display. Rachel chooses to incorporate a plant in the foreground of the photo along with the green moss that has begun to grow on the wall behind the statue and the tombstone. Pale green rust has similarly masked the statue itself, leaving only peaks of its original iron colour visible. This greenery growing around the display is the secondary clue that this statue is from an earlier time, which is most immediately portrayed through the style of the sculpting of the statue itself. Both the changing color of the statue and the life that is growing around it evidently juxtaposes the permanence of the statue and the context of death to which it belongs.

    An important interpretation for this photo is to be made on the identity of the statue as it acts as the subject of the photo. Going back to our religious considerations of the context, this statue may represent Mary, or similarly a representation of a female, from the Roman Catholic gaze. Through this idea, what might the statue communicate on the ideas of femininity from this time and context? What is intended to be communicated through her position, bodily expression, dress, and appearance? I suggest ideas of dependence, emotional expression and beauty. Keeping in line with this interpretation, the theoretical concept of “gender essentialism” introduces a symbolic interpretation to this photo. The femininity portrayed in this statue, though created far in the past, remains permanent and unchaining overtime. Similarly, as gender scholars argue, though historical contexts have changed and brought upon new realities for woman and men alike, there still remains a strong tie and belief that women and men are essentially different in nature. Paula England (2010) argued for a gender revolution that is stalled due to conflicting logics where gender equality has propelled women forward in the economic realm, but the deep ties of gender essentialism continue to guide traditional choices and understandings of identity based on an essential femininity. This idea is mimicked in the photo by Rachel Tanur: as the context around the statue changes by plants and moss growing around her, even rust on her surface, her essential nature remains unchanged.