Diptych: Echo meet Narcissus

It is written that the nymph Echo needed to have the last word, and after angering Hera (or Juno, Hera’s counterpart in the religions of ancient Rome), was cursed. All Echo could do was repeat the last thing said to her, becoming all last word. She fell in love with Narcissus, a beautiful man.

One day, Narcissus was separated from his companions, and shouted “Is anyone here?” All Echo, who was watching Narcissus, could do was reply, “Here.” And so began a courtship of call and response. Narcissus spoke; Echo repeated. As happened often, Narcissus angered the gods, and was cursed to love in vain. Which he did, after seeing his reflection in a pond. Near this pond, Narcissus died, and on that spot where he died, a narcissus flower grew, to which Echo tended.

Echo and Narcissus bound by affliction and unreturned affection, and the subject of a 1903 John William Waterhouse painting, a print of which Shaun has, or had. Intrigued with using “found materials” (albeit materials culled from Shaun’s home) to make something new, I cut the Waterhouse print in half, used the separate images of Echo and Narcissus, the doors of Shaun’s bureau (which I removed), candle wax, and quotes from Ovid’s version of the myth (Shaun’s suggestion, using quotes from the story) to re-pair the torn-apart would-be lovers.

This not-quite-a-diptych now on Shaun’s wall, across
from his bed, and near his desk. Not-quite-a-diptych because a diptych is any object with two flat plates attached at a hinge, becoming hinged, which is one way of looking at how we form relationships. Separate objects that attach. Or try to attach, regardless of affliction or affection. In anyone here?, Narcissus asked. Here, Echo replied. All Narcissus had to do was find her.

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This entry was posted on May 14, 2012 by and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

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