It seems my previous blog piece has brought to the forefront my feelings towards Cornelia Parker’s ruining of Rodin’s The Kiss. As I research her creative process whilst trying to remain somewhat objective, I find I’m not the only one who is incredibly offended by it:
“Abuse of Rodin!”
Brian Sewell, Art Critic
“Vandal takes scissors to artist’s adaptation of Rodin sculpture.”
The Guardian Headline, Monday 7th April 2003
In 2003, conceptual artist Cornelia Parker re-titled Rodin’s sculpture The Distance (A Kiss with Strings Attached) after binding Rodin’s lovers with a mile-long piece of string. Her creative process was influenced by Marcel Duchamp’s twine installation at the 1942 First Papers of Surrealism exhibition in America, where Duchamp playfully filled the space with miles of twine to enhance the audience experience.
This homage that Parker lays claim to, to two influential masters of their time, feels unoriginal and insulting. Parker not only unnecessarily vandalises a Rodin masterpiece without any thought to its conservation but also attempts to recreate the sensationalism of a Duchamp albeit on a much smaller scale.
What took Rodin years to complete, Parker defaces in seconds. By claiming, “her intervention served to make the sculpture less of a cliché and more representative of the complicated nature of relationships. […] That relationships can be tortured, [suffocating] and not just the romantic deal…”* is somewhat confusing.
Rodin immersed himself in Dante’s Divine Comedy. For years depicting Dante’s Inferno as sketches, narrative scenes, maquettes, and sculptures; one of his largest commissions being what we know now as The Gates of Hell.
What part of this story or the way it has been depicted in art form shouts romantic cliché to Parker? Lovers doomed to the underworld. An adulterous relationship that is fuelled with lust, lies, betrayal and bloodshed. Damned souls. Suffering for eternity for their sins. Parker’s notion of a whimsical love affair cannot be further from the truth. If anything, she has robbed us and the lovers of that divine moment before they are condemned to Hell.