Friday, October 22, 2010

Palais et Palais

I was thrilled to be asked to show my efforts at the Palais de Roissy, for two reasons.

The Palais de Roissy was without equal, the Queen of builds in Second Life. It could have been none other than a labor of love. I loved to visit, even when there was nothing going on. The memorials to those in Roissy who had died in the other life, some of whom I knew, always gave me pause, to think of how their lives had touched others before they logged off one last time.

Having some small idea of what it took to conceptualize the original, with its hidden rooms and secret walls, I spent a long time sending my camera through floors, walls and ceilings. I spied out furnished rooms with no obvious egress. Building is not my forte and perhaps that is why I appreciate building (and anything else requiring style and skill). Simply marvelous.

The second reason was that I always considered my SL pictures frivolous, tongue in cheek. Fun. Narcissism of the highest order. But not art. So when Elizabeth persisted, after several opportunities to involve others instead, I had to consider that to at least one other, what I was doing had some merit.

Then, within two days of taking my show down, the Palais de Roissy was no more. Gone without a trace. Like water poured on hot sand. Like Virtual Starry Night, the interactive van Gogh museum, my second favorite place in SL. Just a memory for those of us that knew them, question mark for those who hear about such places from those who did. As I muse about the realities of our virtual existence, I recall Woody Allen's line: "And I wonder if memories are something we have, or something we have lost?"

But all is not lost.

Like the cherry blossoms returning in the spring, like the phoenix rising from the ashes, another Palais has arise, le Nouveau Palais. More compact than the original, but again built by Miss Deusen Marx, surely one of the most gifted architects in Second Life, it is still magnificent.

Built with the same rich wood textures throughout, there is still a spacious dance floor and a stage, suitable for masques, balls, poetry slams and orgies like the original. An alcove to either side of the stage offers both room for intimate art exhibits and stairs to the loges. The upper floors on either side offer larger display areas.

Schedules being what they are in SL, I cannot say the same artists' work will be displayed by the time you read this, but on 23rd June, 2010, this is what you will find there, main floor first, in alphabetical order.

Rob Barber offers an intriguing mix of images, at once modern in subject yet primitive. It should be noted that "primitive" is a recognized style, and does not mean lacking sophistication. Barber's colors and subjects echo van Gogh, perhaps not surprising as he too is Dutch.

Love Couple 2007 (for Thalia),Rob Barber/Rob Steenhorst is unusual in two respects. First, while the other images are clearly modern and urban, this shows a nude couple. He is dark-skinned and erect, while she is fair, and stroking his erection. I have a strong sense of deja vu. I believe this is similar to paintings done in the early years of the American Colonies, depicting the natives encountered by the whites. And thirdly, this is the one picture not offered for sale, although it is a copy.

Fuschia Nightfire says, " I am an artist, RL and SL. You can see some of my art on SL by visiting the galleries in my picks." Additionally, two YouTube videos are referenced, but there is no indication whether on not this artist is their creator. Fuschia offers both images and sculptures, flowers and what might be a blending of the two, pictures of sculpted figures. I am not describing then well, I fear.

Easily the most startling and innovative image in the new Palais is "falling daisies by fuschia nightfire." At first it seems a straightforward picture of daisies with a small daisy sculpture on the floor. Then you realize the daisies on and near the floor are parts of the larger image, blossoms tumbling out of the frame and into your life.

On the upper floor there is a little more space because there are no staircases. And Nero Grunstein uses that space very effectively. His theme is bondage and restraint. And, by using a couple of additional walls the viewer is somewhat constrained in their movements. Which accentuates the impact of the images. These are very consistent in lighting and texture and I found myself thinking of MC Escher as I viewed them, although Nero's and Escher's subjects could not be more different.

While the mirror image was a close second, I found "Trifles" the most pleasing. One sees a great deal of bondage art in Second Life but I have seen few I would want to hang on my virtual wall and look at every day. I think I would not bind a girl for an indefinite period and it seems to me having any other picture from this sumptuous collection would make me feel I had. Which is my limitation, not the artist’s.

Carley Noonan lets her images speak for themselves. Drawings rather than photographs, they are starkly different from Nero's. Where his are restrained, hers flow freely, the women have their hands free, to explore and expose their vaginas, to hold a penis to their lips. Bondage and restraint are present, but are not the central theme.

The most startling image is also the most disturbing. "Ready for Service" shows a clothed woman in a fetal position and one wonders if she is to serve or be served. Additionally, below the picture are scrawled the words "Slut," "Whore" and "Cum Bag." And now one wonders if her position is in repose or recoil at having been called such?

All in all, a nicely varied assortment of images, and if this appears in print, I hope it is before those offerings are taken down. Or, if not, you had a chance to enjoy them as I did. In either case, and exhibit or not, there will be something to see.

The Queen is gone, and it benefits none to cry about it now. The Queen is gone, but her daughter lives and will carry on quite nicely. She is not her mother but soon the present generation will have known only her. As has been said countless times,

"The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen!"

Elbereth Exonar

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