Travelin’ Light

Travelin’ Light by Alison Saar (detail), Besthoff Sculpture Garden, New Orleans, Louisiana

Travelin’ Light, Alison Saar

Travelin’ Light presents a formally dressed man, hanging by his bare feet, a powerful but dignified reference to torture and abandonment. Saar has made the figure into a bell. When the chain on its back is pulled, a sonorous sound is heard, ringing for all victims of violence and terror.

I looked at Traveln’ Light and walked around it. I read the little nameplate and the blurb in the guidemap and discovered it was a bell. I thought about reaching out to the metal chain inside the hollow of the hanged man’s head and giving it a ring, but my reticence to actually touch artworks on display was greater than my curiosity as to its sound. A few minutes later, while I was a third of the way around the little pond, some guy with a gimme cap on backwards walked up to it and was ringing away with abandon. It had a dolorous sound, not bright like a church bell, more of a dull peal.

No human beings more dangerous than those who have suffered for a belief: the great persecutors are recruited from the martyrs not quite beheaded. Far from diminishing the appetite for power, suffering exasperates it.

—-Emil Cioran

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