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Purgatorio 2.0 - Invidia

This artwork is the second part of a modern day interpretation of 'Purgatorio', part of Dante Alighieri's 14th century masterpiece 'La Divina Commedia'. The poem describes Dante's travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Having survived the depths of Hell, Dante and Virgil ascend out of the undergloom to the Mountain of Purgatory ('Purgatorio) on the far side of the world. The mountain has seven terraces, corresponding to the seven deadly sins (Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, Lust).

The second part of this series depicts the terrace 'Invidia', losely translated as Envy and Jealousy. In latin 'Invidere' means 'to see', 'to look at'.

In times of the ever present social media we are presented with a bright and shiny 'instagram'-worthy vision of how all these 'perfect' people and influencers present their lives, resulting in large audiences envy this 'perfect' mirage… which can lead into a twisted idea of how life should be.

This artwork is built up on a central yellow rose, made out of dripping yellow paint. A yellow rose is a common symbol for jealousy. The yellow paint is dripping from the rose, turning a normal, neutral element into a jealous/envy symbol. All around the rose it is being attacked by nails, symbol for all the influences turning it into a jealous symbol. Added in front is a mouse pointer as a symbol for the influences of everything available online. The cubical is finalised in front and in the back with the english translation of the part of the original texte of Dante on which this artwork is based.

Texte on which the artwork is based


Purgatory. The Second Ring. Envy

Instances of Generosity. The Envious


We now were at the summit of the stairs,

where for the second time is cut away

the Mount, ascent of which frees one from sin;

and there a cornice, like the first one, girds

the hillside round about, save that its arc

more quickly curves. There is no shaded carving

apparent here, nor is there any mark;

the bank seems bare, as also seems the path,

with but the livid color of the rock.


“If we await folk here, of whom to ask

our way,” the Poet argued, “I ’m afraid

our choice will be, perhaps, delayed too long.”


Then on the sun he fixed his steadfast eyes,

made of his right the center for his motion,

and turned the left side of himself around.


“O thou sweet light, with confidence in whom

I enter this new path, conduct us thou,”

he said, “as one should be conducted here.

Thou warm’st the world, and on it thou dost shine;

if aught else urge not to the contrary,

thy rays at all times ought to be our guides.”


Already had we gone as far up there,

as here on earth is reckoned for a mile,

in little time, because of ready will;

when, flying toward us, there were spirits heard,

who, though unseen, were to the board of love

uttering their courteous calls.


The voice which first

passed flying, said aloud: “They have no wine!”

and then behind us kept repeating it;

and ere, because of having moved away,

it could be heard no more, another, passing,

cried: “I ’m Orestes!” nor did that one linger.

“What are these voices, Father?” said I then;

and ev’n while I was asking, lo, a third,

which said: “Love those, from whom ye’ve ill received!”


The kindly Teacher then: “This circle whips

the fault of envy, hence the scourge’s cords

are drawn from love. The curb will probably

give forth a sound the contrary of this;

in my opinion, I believe thou ’lt hear it,

before the pass of pardon thou attain.

But keenly through the air address thy gaze,

and thou ’lt see people on ahead of us,

who seated are, and each against the cliff.”


Then wider than before I oped mine eyes;

I looked ahead, and shades I saw with cloaks

not differing from the color of the stone.


And when a little further on we were,

I heard one crying: “Mary, pray for us!”

and cries to Michael, Peter, and all the Saints.

Nor do I think there walks on earth to-day

a man so hard, that he would not be pierced

by sympathy for what I then perceived;

for, after I had drawn so near to them,

that what they did with clearness came to me,

tears from my eyes were drawn by bitter grief.

Covered they seemed to me with coarse hair-cloth,

and one sustained the other with his shoulder,

while all of them were by the bank sustained.


Ev’n thus the blind, in want of livelihood,

at Pardons stand to beg for what they need,

and one upon the other bows his head,

that pity may be speedily aroused,

not merely by the sound of what they say,

but by their aspect, which no less implores.


And as the sun availeth not the blind,

so to the shades, whereof I spoke just now,

the sky’s light willeth not to grant itself;

because an iron band runs through, and sews

the eyelids of them all, as with wild hawks

one does, since otherwise they ’d not keep still.


To me it seemed an outrage that, unseen,

I should see others, as I walked along;

I therefore turned to my wise Counselor.


He well knew what the dumb man wished to say;

and therefore waited not for me to ask,

but “Speak,” he said, “be brief and to the point.”


Virgil on that side of the cornice-ledge

was coming on with me, whence one can fall,

because it wreathes itself with no bank there.

On the other side I had those zealous shades,

who through the horrid seams were pressing so

their tears, that they were bathing both their cheeks.


Turning to them, I thus began: “O people,

who certain are of seeing that High Light,

which your desire hath for its only object;

so melt Grace soon the scum upon your conscience,

that memory’s stream may through it clearly flow,

tell me, for grateful will it be to me

and pleasing, if there is among you here

a soul that Latin is; it will be well

for him, perhaps, if I should come to know it.”


“O brother mine, we both are citizens

of one true City; but thou meanest one,

who, while a pilgrim, lived in Italy.”


It seemed to me that this I heard for answer

a little further on than where I was;

I therefore let myself be heard much further.

Among the rest I saw a shade which seemed

expectant in its looks; and, if one ask

“How so?” held up its chin as do the blind.


“Spirit,” said I, “that dost subdue thyself,

that thou mayst climb, if she that didst reply,

make thyself known to me by place or name.”


“Sienese I was;” she answered, “and with these

cleanse here my guilty life, and pray to Him

with tears, that He may lend Himself to us.

Though called Sapìa, sapient was I not,

for I was far more glad of others’ harm,

than I of my good fortune ever was.

And, that thou mayst not think that I deceive thee,

ev’n as I tell thee, hear how mad I was,

once my years’ arch was on its downward course.

When with their foes my fellow citizens

were joined in battle near the town of Colle,

I prayed to God for that which He had willed.

When, routed there, they took the bitter path

of flight, I felt, on seeing them pursued,

a joy unequalled by all other joys;

I therefore upward turned my daring face,

and cried to God: ‘I fear Thee now no more!’

as doth the blackbird at the least fair weather.

When I was at the end of life, I longed

for peace with God; but not yet would my debt

have been diminished by repentance here,

had it not been that Pietro Pettinagno,

who of his charity was grieved for me,

was mindful of me in his holy prayers.


But who art thou, that askest of our state

while going on, and hast thine eyes unclosed,

as I believe, and dost, while breathing, talk?”


“Mine eyes will yet be taken from me here,

but not for long;” said I, “for they have not

offended much by being turned by envy.

Far greater is the fear, wherewith my soul

is filled, of that tormenting pain below,

for even now the load there weighs upon me.”


And she: “Who, then, led thee to us up here,

if to return below thou think?” And I:

“He that is with me here, and speaketh not.

But I am living, therefore ask of me,

elected spirit, if thou’dst have me move

my mortal feet in thy behalf on earth.”


“Oh, this” she answered, “is so strange to hear,

that certainly it proves God’s love for thee;

therefore assist me with thy prayers at times!

I beg thee by what most thou longest for,

if e’er thou tread the soil of Tuscany,

that thou among my kin restore my fame.

Among that vain folk wilt thou see them there,

which hopes in Talamone, and will waste

more hope on it than on the Diàna quest;

but still more will the admirals invest.”

Building the artwork in pictures

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