11 May 2015

Cocytus: The 9th Circle of Hell

"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," bore the inscription on the Gates of Hell through which Dante and his guide, Virgil, passed as they begin their exploration poetically chronicled in Inferno, the first section of the former's early 14th-century masterpiece, Divine Comedy. Artist Frankx Lefavre has captured the mood of Inferno in his new installation at LEA18, Cocytus: The 9th Circle of Hell, pulling inspiration from the famous 19th-century engravings by Gustave Doré. "I'd been reading, and saw some of Gustav Doré's prints from Dante's work," he explained. "And it struck me: I liked the look. I couldn't replicate it here, and didn't try to, really, but I wanted to the atmosphere and ambiance."

While many modern depictions of hell suggest a fiery inferno, Dante's was one of ice: bodies trapped or submerged, twisting in anguish. The ninth circle, Cocytus, comprises four parts, all of which we traverse in Frankx's installation: Caina, Antenora, Ptolomaea and Judecca, holding respectively traitors to family, traitors to country, traitors to guests and finally traitors to their benefactors or lords and masters. (Each, by the way, has its own default windlight, so be sure to have that ability set properly in your viewer.) At the culmination, in the center of hell and at the lowest point of Frankx's build, we encounter Satan, looming over his realm, and also trapped in the ice. "I think we have found the boss," quipped fellow explorer Natsuki Morigi as we arrived. Cocytus: The 9th Circle of Hell will remain on display through the end of June.

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