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‘the love that dare not speak its name’

The other day I visited the Amsterdam sim because I’d heard there was an art installation set up there (thanks to Keiko for the notecard ^^ ) by Arahan Claveau (RL artist Steve Millar). I went just in time, too — it was the last day of the exhibit. I didn’t take any snapshots, which I am now regretting, but I am sure there are some pictures floating about the internet courtesy of the avid Second Life flickr community.

The name of the installation was ‘The love that dare not speak its name’. It was the kind of exhibit that makes you… well, very uncomfortable. One of the first things I saw when I arrived was a giant, pink pyramid which puzzled me at first but I think I got the message once I’d pondered on the scenery a bit more.

The whole thing was about the persecution that people of homosexual orientation have faced throughout history and continue to grapple with today, and how a lot of us tend to not want to deal with thinking about it. What I personally got out of it was that it felt a bit like I was contemplating a reflection I was seeing in mankind’s common mirror; a terrifying reminder that we, as humans, not only have the capacity for so much blind intolerance, cruelty and straight-up evil, but that we also will very often gloss over these things and/or look the other way because it’s just plain disturbing to dwell upon these truths.

Some of the imagery was fairly obvious: a gallows platform, with bright pink party balloons littering the ground around it, and blood spatters on images of men that flashed in vivid colors, which to me was somewhat reminiscent of color-changing club strobe lighting. Walking over some of the images prompted a notecard-giver to offer notes with titles such as ‘Homophobic Violence’ and ‘Homosexuality Laws of the world’. That last note was quite an eye-opener; I hadn’t realized that even places like Western Samoa and Tokelau, island countries I’ve always perceived as pockets of Pacific paradise, will hand out harsh prison sentences to people for having gay sex.

About the pyramid… after I gave it some thought, I remembered that most pyramids from ancient civilizations are really basically tombs for the dead. So I was thinking that perhaps it’s a giant grave painted over in pink; a massive monument representing the many lives claimed by hate crimes against gay people, washed over in an unoffensive and cheerful hue that represents a willingness to cover up the ugliness, look the other way and feign ignorance. If you can’t see it, then it’s not really there, right?  The neatly arranged pink crosses that looked like they were knocked over and tumbling into the river?  I’m sure they had multiple meanings. One of the ideas that I personally read into it: the hypocrisy of organized religion in general, since our religious leaders preach about love and instruct us to cherish our brothers and sisters, and yet so much of the hatred and intolerance we see expressed towards gay individuals finds its roots in centuries-old religious ideologies.

Anyways, the whole thing really made me think, it raised my awareness a bit more and educated me on the subject and made me question if I’m being one of those people who choose to look the other way. I really appreciated that; a lot of the art that I see in SL is “prettiness”; what I saw yesterday went beyond that. Not that there’s anything wrong with pretty images (remember, the author of this post is someone who is borderline obsessed with dolling up her avatar), but I really liked that I was looking at something in SL that was thought-provoking, informative, and a strong commentary on what’s going on in our flesh-and-bone, brick-and-mortar world.

As I mentioned at the outset of this post, I am a bit late in writing about this. The exhibit ran from the 10th through the 18th, and the 18th is when I went to view it. You can see more of Arahan’s work however, alongside that of Nebulosus Severine’s, at their art gallery Arthole (Kress 168, 88, 391).  I’m looking forward to seeing more exhibits in the future.

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May 20, 2008 - Posted by | Art, Second Life | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Hi Melanie,

    Neb just gave me a link to your blog.

    Thanks so much for visiting my installation in Amsterdam, I’m really happy you seem to have got so much from the experience. There was a note in the large pyramid that I think you missed, it had an explanation about the significance of the Pink Triangle. Here’s more on that – http://www.flickr.com/photos/arahanclaveau/2485814351

    There’s some other links on that page to a video and audio recording from a live link-up I did with the arts festival in RL Amsterdam. The audio interview I think you’ll find interesting as I talk quite a lot about the politics and meaning behind the build.

    Anyway, thanks again and see you around.

    -Arahan-

    Comment by Arahan Claveau | May 28, 2008


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