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Stony Shrouds

This is just amazing to me. I saw a photograph on a friend’s social media profile. I had to look it up, as I suspected it was photoshopped. It wasn’t. It’s a real thing. THE VEILED VIRGIN is a sculpture created by Giovanni Strazza, on display at Presentation Convent in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Locating it online, though, led me down quite a rabbit hole.

Turns out there are lots of such eye-popping sculptures, ranging from the sacred—THE VEILED CHRIST by Giuseppe Sanmartino

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—to the erotic, like this statue of a nude woman covered in what appears to be sheer, wet cloth.

Just google “veiled statue” and check out the image results. It’s incredible, the way an artist is able to create the illusion of silky fabric out of stone.

In addition to being solemn or sexy (check out Antonio Corradini’s work PORTRAIT OF MODESTY if you don’t think a statue can be sexy),

most of these such statues are undeniably creepy to me. I wonder why this is. Is the Victorian image of the ghost—a being draped in a sheet—so ingrained in the psyche? No, I expect it is actually due to the image that inspired the Victorian concept: a burial shroud. We don’t use shrouds in the modern age, in First World countries, but the shroud used to be the ubiquitous manner of dressing a body for burial. And the idea of a body, still wrapped in its shroud, getting up and moving around, is the stuff of collective nightmare.

TheCheezman • September 3, 2019

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