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August 21, 2005

New Head Of The Vatican


BAGreader Carolly contributed these comments regarding World Youth Day:

A few days back, we discussed the sidewalk drawings to memorialize Hiroshima/Nagasaki, and there was an image of someone walking across the middle, uncaring.  Here is another top-down view of a scene with interesting contrasts:

When I first saw the thumbnail on Google for Sofia News, I thought of a Victorian momento mori… faded photo with doves and flowers all around.  So I was somewhat surprised to have it open to this scene of an artist working while the crowd circled him.

The image itself is extremely iconic, with a hint of Christ-like definition in the face.  If it wasn’t for the white hair, I wouldn’t think that the subject was the Pope.  The handling of the folds of cloth and the gestures reminds me more of the 13-14th century, and feels much more Italian than German.

In any case, having either Pope or Christ drawn on the sidewalk where people will surely walk over them, whether delberately or negligently, might lead into interesting comparisons…. Would anybody draw Mohammed on pavement?  Or Moses?



Perhaps following the same lines, the BAG noticed a number of Pope images from the massive event in Cologne that seemed decidedly un-John Paul-like — including one of a stern-faced supporter holding a banner, and another of Benedict looking for his speech.

How do you read what’s happening here?

(image 1: Deutsche Welle. Cologne.  August 18, 2005.; image 2: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP  Cologne. August 21, 2005 at YahooNews; image 3: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters. Cologne. August 21, 2005 at YahooNews )

  • ummabdulla

    Muslims wouldn’t draw any Prophets (including Muhammad, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them all), or their names – or the name of Allah (or God, which means the same) on the floor. In fact, we aren’t supposed to draw the Prophets at all, so any film about any prophet shouldn’t actually show him (like the film “The Message” or the PBS show about Muhammad) and strict Muslims don’t believe in drawing any person.
    A while ago, a Muslim in Chicago wrote that he was walking along the lake and almost tripped because he suddenly saw “Jesus” written on the ground, and he had to quickly avoid stepping on it. I’m sure that the person who wrote it had good intentions, but a Muslim would consider it very disrespectful to put that on the ground where people will step on it.

  • susan

    From an artisitc point of view, the Muslims have a bit more class than Christians do. I’ve yet to see a tacky Islamic bumper sticker proclaiming their good news.

  • bg

    Well, let’s not go so far as to equate the Pope with Jesus or any prophets, OK?
    I think NPR had yesterday the image (projected over the radio) that this Pope did not kiss the ground (Muslims? weigh in on that?), and I think the Popemobile was more a regular car, point being, Benedict is no JP2.
    It was also reported that Benedict is stiffer and that he seemed fatigued after a fairly short stint. . .maybe akin to the difference between the charismatic factors of Kerry and Clinton…or of Clinton and anyone else anywhere.

  • Martin

    As an aside: tacky? What about bumper stickers in Egypt, with “Muslim” sharks eating “Christian” fish? We are are able to debase ourselves in the name of religion, or in any name for that matter. In this case, a pavement artist is paying a compliment to a pope, using his art. How is this art reflected by the people around? Do the participants approve? Does a mass for one million people mean that they glorify this pope? Or that they are searching? What does it all mean?

  • mugatea

    Search in Google, Images using “sidewalk art”, wow.
    The chalk drawing above looks like the like the Pope is giving the final english to a shot from beyond the three point line.
    Ri—-co—-la! Swish. The Pope skips backwards to defend his net.
    Sorry, mugacoffee today.

  • Asta

    Mugatea/coffee, your reference to the game of billiards (I assume, I could be wrong) was really interesting. As a pool player, I appreciate the reference to “english”.
    I realize I have said some really dumb things in this forum, and I am probably fixin’ to say something dumb again.
    But…personally, from my view point, wow, that is one bad piece of sidewalk art. It is truly an unkind portrait of the Pope. And I also think it is disrespectful to place portraits of people on sidewalks to be walked on or around (walked on is more likely if there is a crowd).
    What do the words mean on this chalk drawing? Urbi et orbi. I took Latin in high school, but it’s rusty after 49 years…does it mean “here and everywhere”?

  • amanuensis

    Asta, I think it’s the same “english” on the ball, but a basketball that is referenced.
    However, I agree with the rest. The picture is unflattering. When I first looked at it, I tried to figure out who it was: let’s see, Catholic, old, fluffy robs, blessings maybe? I came up with Mother Theresa. Yes, horrible sidewalk art.
    Also, I think the only reason it’s not being walked on, is that it is in “performance mode” at the time. The artist is there drawing. Yet people are quite apparently milling about on the lower third / unfinished part of the picture. As soon as the artist is gone, it will turn back into a walking area.

  • Molly

    “to the City (of Rome) and to the World” urbi et orbi

  • mugatea

    Yo Asta, I’ve never seen you drop anything “dumb” into the BAG. Your observations often inspire others to contribute. You put good “english” on the conversation, imho.
    Yes the art is not good, but it’s not complete, it’s a large space to work in, and that artist is a youth. The subject doesn’t help. Pope JP looked like a jolly soul, this new guy looks like he yells at the local kids when they walk on his lawn.

  • Asta

    …”this new guy looks like he yells at the local kids when they walk on his lawn.” Oh, Mugatea, you said what I was afraid to say; I don’t think I’ll ever warm up to this new Pope. (Hey, he might even look like….the Annoying Old Guy. hehheh)
    After looking at the photo again, I had this funny reaction that it looked like the Pope was sinking into wet cement or brackish waters and is reaching for something to cling to. Those pesky optical illusions!

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