22 December 2015

Escenas — La Muerte

Now open at MetaLES is the fourth and final scene of the brilliant Escenas by Ux Hax and Romy Nayar, entitled La Muerte (The Death), following previous scenes El Tiempo (The Time), Decisiones (Decisions), and El Meido (The Fear). As with the previous installments of this tarot-based artwork, it's essential that visitors turn up their draw distances substantially, as the view pictured above is literally the entire sim, with giant characters and decor impressively designed. It is with this final installment that the story becomes clear, and here I must thank my partner, Kinn, whose deep knowledge of tarot provided a strong and immediate revelation.

"The tarot is representative of the circle of life — it is not linear, so the artists' comment that the scenes are not in order makes sense," she began, providing some broad context. "Life is a spiral, and you often find yourself in the same situations over and over again. The tarot has an order, yes — it is the fool's journey — who he meets along the way and what he learns, but then at the completion of the journey he starts all over again. In these scenes, the woman is the fool on her journey — 'fool' not meaning foolishness but rather innocence and unlimited potential. The figure hanging above her in El Tiempo is the hanged man, who stands for sacrifice and letting go, and the symbols surrounding him are from the wheel of fortune — a card that represents the ups and downs of life; specifically, a major turning point. Later the image of the actual Fool from the tarot turns up; in the instance of this particular deck it is a man in a straitjacket...a very non-traditional representation."

Key to unlocking the mystery appeared in El Meido, in which we saw a cradle that continually faded away and reappeared, ensuring not only that we noticed it, but also underscoring its key position in the narrative. "It seems to me that the woman has lost a child," explained Kinn, "and these scenes reflect how she dealt with that situation. Theoretically all aspects of life are in tarot — they are the embodiment of experience."

"The devil is an interesting card," she continued. "The word for it is bondage. When I read, it generally shows up if a person is stuck in one way of thinking or in an addictive relationship. But they always have the option of freeing themselves — that is the message of tarot. Temperance [who stands next to the table in this scene, image below] is a warning to avoid extremes such as those that come with the devil, and often shows up when there are powerful emotions clouding action. None of this is ever set in stone; none of life is either. Things are fluid, and you create much with your mind. Outcomes are dependent on your reaction to the situation."

Other hints to the story rest on the table: grapes, in tarot a symbol of fertility, and pearls, a reference to innocence and children. The cups on the table are reminiscent of the Five of Cups card, indicative of a huge loss, bereavement, and only seeing the negative in a situation. In El Tiempo we witnessed the woman's anger, in Decisiones her quest for justice, in El Meido her sorrow, and now her own demise. "The loss of a child can break a woman — I think she killed herself," Kinn concluded. "It is true that the death card never means literal death but rather represents major change, so this scene could mean she is either embracing change or giving in to death. However, crows are psychopomps that lead souls from one plane of existence to the next, so I don't really think this story has a happy ending." The installation should remain on display until at least January 1.