The Origins of ‘i’

When I first began thinking of Captve, I was studying in Italy and had just encountered Michelangelo’s Prigioni series - often referred to in English as Captives.

Michealangelo's Prigioni Series
Michealangelo’s Prigioni Series

The series, composed of figures half carved out of stone, reveals varying evolutions of the human form confined in blocks of marble. They appear to be emerging from the origins they once belonged to. It’s still debated whether or not each figure was fully completed before Michelangelo’s death, but I like to believe they were.

Michelangelo was a master and always in control of his work; he chose to carve the marble in a way that revealed* only the parts necessary to bring the figures to life. For me the series isn’t about imprisonment, it’s about freedom. This correlates to why I left the ‘i’ out of Captve. By withholding the ‘i’ I reveal enough to convey the word and its meaning, but keep the self for each piece I create. I like to think of it as a nod to the master.

* These figures emerged from the marble “as though surfacing from a pool of water”, as described in Vasari’s “Lives of the Artists”. The method was to take a figure of wax, lay it in a vessel of water and gradually emerge it, noticing the most prominent parts. Just so, the highest parts were extracted first from the marble. [Accademia, Michelangelo’s Prisoners or Slaves.]