Scene IV – The Death is the title of the fourth and final part of Ux Hax and Romy Nayar’s 4-part series of scenes entitled Escenas / Scenes, now open at MetaLES. Taken together, all four parts are apparently intended to tell a story, although they are not necessarily being presented in chronological sequence – and the first, second and third parts have certainly been intriguing, with their rich influences of the major arcana from the tarot.
This tarot theme continues, and is perhaps most evident in this final scene, which is subtitled The future dawns, the loneliness will be difficult for us – although how we construct a story from it might well be down to each of us to determine. As with the first three parts of the series, this piece is on a truly gigantic scale; something which quickly becomes apparent on arrival, where you find yourself standing on top of a huge table, complete with an equally large bowl of fruit and two toppled goblets. But these draw the attention only briefly; it is the individuals around or near the table which capture and hold the eye.
Sitting to one side of the table is Death, skull covered by a cowl, left arm outstretched, on which sits our friend, the crow, messenger of the underworld. Resting her hand lightly on that of Death, and seated alongside him, is a woman dressed in a bridal gown and veil, a goblet of wine delicately held in her other hand.
At the head of the table, helping himself to a bunch of grapes is the Devil, whom we originally encountered in the second part of this series. On the table in fromt of him lie the other cards of the major arcana previously seen in Escena / Scenes – the Hermit, the Chariot, the Scales of Justice, the Wheel of Fortune, the Fool and the Tower. Facing the Devil, and standing at the far end of the table, stands Temperance, pouring forth another goblet of wine.
Of all the characters here, only the veiled woman might seem a little out-of-place. At least until one considers the High Priestess of the tarot. Originally called La Papessa, or “The Popess”, a woman shown in papal gowns, and a triregnum. Later, it became the High Priestess, and catholic influences removed, to be replaced with more subtle hints – the pillars of Boaz and Jachin, which also have symbolism within freemasonry, and between which the High Priestess is usually depicted as sitting.
In this tableau, it would seem the bridal gown might be symbolic of La Popessa, and the idea of the church as the “bride” of Christ, echoing the more catholic elements of the early tarot, which the tall candelabras standing either side of the chairs on which she and Death sit might be seen as symbolic of the pillars of Boaz and Jachin. There is also, perhaps, something else here: a subtle inference of the relationship between religion and death.
So what are we to make of all of this, the four scenes taken together? One possible interpretation might be that taken as a whole, this could be seen as a commentary on our relationship with death: the one aspect of the tarot which has been present throughout, if not always visible until this point in time. His is a presence which can be seen is the old woman’s struggles to escape the hole in EL Tiempo / The Time: in the presence of the Hanged Man himself in Decisiones / Decisions: and the vanishing / materialising cradle in El Miedo / The Fear. They are images which remind us that Death is ever-present, and can call on us at any time.
Hence the use of the tarot, and the religious symbolism such as the allusion to the church through the High Priestess and the boxed presence of what appears to be a set of rosary beads on the table. Through the one, we attempt to divine our fate, and through the other, we seek comfort from our fear of death. Yet the fact remains, Death is always our companion; never seen, but always present, playing our fates like a deck of cards. And thus he presides at this table, and through the unfolding tableaux Ux and Romy have presented.
But that’s just one idea; you might well see things differently.
- Escenas / Scenes: Decisiones / Decisions (Rated: Moderate)