Diary 9: Trésors Du Louvre: Une Histoire D’Amour Echo (Treasures Of The Louvre: A Love Story Echoed)
I am as comfortable in the chambers of museums as I am so in my own home, these magnificent kingdoms of treasures for the intellect, heart and soul remedy my thirst to be enlightened by the worlds of the past but in doing so they invariably strike new lines of enquiry and thus I relish, as opposed to writhe, at the prospect that I shall never know everything there is to know because I am a creature of endless questioning. So sorry to be a pain!
It would have registered as a gross misconduct of epic proportions had I not compiled a series of photographic tales pertaining to the world’s largest and most visited museum, The Louvre. I have picked up the rather mind-boggling fact that if anyone were to be mad enough to methodically analyse each artefact in its impressive collections it would take approximately 9 months to scale the entire lot! I actually would fancy myself having such a job although I suppose my absence from the classroom would not be tolerated and I can imagine demonstrations of student protests for my return, consequently driving the Principle bonkers and eventually leading to the demise of the reputation for which my college is known! Yikes!
Once an established fortress in the 12th Century, whose crypts are remarkably still in existence below ground level and which I explored with glee, later reincarnated its purpose as royal palaces, residence of some rather decadent French royals until a little something called the French Revolution came along and the entire colossal expanse of the premises was transformed into a public museum, decreed as a centre of excellence and prestige for the gathering of artefacts that were to be on presentation for the betterment of public knowledge. And that is why I have managed to bring You some choice nuggets – not literally of course! – from my visitation, otherwise had Louis XVI still been on the throne You might have seen my defeated face on the gallows! Yikes again!
Before You get all excited I should like to inform You at the outset that I HAVE taken a photograph of the Mona Lisa HOWEVER I am disinclined to reveal it to You because after personally viewing it myself I am extremely of the position that it is imbued with such inexplicable mystery and magic that, for those who have not observed her in person, must do so in their lifetime. My photograph of it hardly does any justice to De Vinci’s masterpiece and since he is a fellow polymath I shall honour furthermore and state that to experience the notoriously elusive Mona Lisa smile You must pay her a visit Yourself! Giggle, giggle!
But, there were some other world famous artefacts that I was drawn to even more and whose photo diary I shall impart to You because encoded in their art are the compelling bridges that link You and I. Today, I present to You my personal favourite, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, a 2nd Century Greek marble sculpture of moonshine quality depicting the Goddess Nike which translates as Victory. Built not only in her honour but to commemorate a naval victory over a battle that occurred on sea, she stands tall, adorned in flowing drapery kissed by her beloved sea breezes, her wings outstretched but her feet touching ground, suggesting that the artist intended the viewer to form the impression that she was descending onto the prow of the winning ship. I do wonder if that ship was entitled ‘Win-chester’? Oh so sorry for the mild deviation!
It never once lessened the powerful impact the statue had on the senses despite it missing a head and both arms. The anonymity only served to cast an aura of universalism and the unperceivable mystery of the Divine. It is believed that her right arm was raised, cupped around her mouth as she shouted “Victory!” to her fleet. The tip of her ring finger has been discovered and is located next to the statue. I was in wordless awe at how something so physically incomplete, missing the parts we associate with the movement of Life itself, was complete in perfection and beauty and in the conveyance of its authenticity of triumph and joy. Pieces missing and yet everything fell into place, I looked up at Nike and felt one more mirror had been placed in front of me, she and I were in the same boat.
Millions of tourists had gathered close to her with their weaponry, their selfie-sticks, risking their lives so it seemed just so that they can acquire that prized photograph of their face next to Nike. It was impossible for me to capture anything in that hive of crowds and my limited focal distance on Laika implied that a tactical zoom shot was out of the question. Yet, the lightbulb is always switched on above my head and very rapidly a new idea gave rise. I would move away, as faraway as possible from the bustling crowd and see what gifts of sight would proffer onto my lap.
Skipping behind everyone and climbing up the stairs I re-orientated my eyes at Nike and….. BEHOLD, I saw her, for the first time, in a completely different light because she no longer appeared as a standalone artefact, she had become peacefully at one with the hallowed walls of the Louvre itself. Instead of the rushing motion and ecstasy of Victory previously sensed, there was now stillness, peace and humility, a calm awakening to the Light of the Eternal Divine. I chose to entitle this scene ‘A Love Story Echoed’ to capture in concise words my belief that the yearning of the Soul for the Divine is time and time again qualitatively recreated in the longings of all Lovers who live from the well of a Good Heart… :))
EPILOGUE: Nike is one of many strong female figures who inspired me to take the teacher’s chair and sprinkle Good Magic on those who came through my door so that they too may recognise of the moonshine wings that grow out of their backs, that they were meant for liberation, for flying. The link below will direct You to what I was once, on the left, and what I am today, on the right, always with the moonshine blossom of Tea in cupped hand… :))
“… she no longer appeared as a standalone artefact, she had become peacefully at one with the hallowed walls of the Louvre itself. Instead of the rushing motion and ecstasy of Victory previously sensed, there was now stillness, peace and humility, a calm awakening to the Light of the Eternal Divine…”
Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Musée Du Louvre | Paris | France 2015