ADIEU LORETTA (Satis Shroff)
Since sculptor Thomas Rees’s work ‘Loretta’ led to a heated discussion in Freiburg and the sculpture was covered with black sticky tape by protesters, Rees has offered to take back his sculpture from the Loretto bath. The sculpture done out of an old oak tree was inspired by the Roman poet Ovid in his poem ‘Metamorphosis’ which is about the mythical story of Pan and the nymph Syrinx.
Pan, it might be noted, was a lesser God of the earth. He was the son of Hermes. Pan, who was noisy and merry, was partly human and partly animal, with goat’s horns and goat’s hoofs. He was the goatherd’s God and the shepherd’s God and the joyous companion of the forest nymphs when they danced. His home was all wild places:
thickets, woods and mountains. He loved being in Arcady, where he was born. A wonderful musician, he played on his pipes of reed. His melodies were as sweet as the nightingale’s song. And he was always in love with one nymph or another. He was, however, rejected due to his ugliness.. The expression ‘panic’ fear is associated to the sounds you hear in the wilderness at night made by Pan. The story is told by the Roman poet Ovid.
Pan loved a nymph named Syrinx who fled from him. And just as he was about to seize her, Syrinx was turned into a tuft of reeds by her sister nymphs. Pan said:
‚Still you shall be mine.’ And he made from what she had become:
A shepherd’s pipe
Of reeds with beeswax joined.
Argus, the watchman with the hundred eyes, was appointed by Hera, the wife of Zeus, to keep an eye on Io, the daughter of Inachus, with whom Zeus has madly fallen in love. Io has been turned into a heifer with horns.
The story of the Syrinx is told drowsily and monotonously and the hundred eyes of Argus were closed and slept.
Hermes saw his chance and killed him at once. Hera, however, took the eyes and set them in the tail of her favourite bird– the peacock.
In the modern context the God Pan would be called a stalker, given to lust, which is understandable, says Thomas Rees. He is of the opinion that his Loretta is well-placed in the Loretto bath, a place where women can bathe without being molested by men. She raises herself above the dominance of men (in this case Pan, who is half man and half
goat) in this men’s world. The women are trying to emancipate themselves but they still get less pay than men and men are given better choices because they make children but don’t get pregnant.
The sculpture depicts Pan lying under her feet as a symbol of servility. In Ovid’s poem Syrinx is forever a prisoner of Pan. Not so Loretta. The sculpture is not about the rape of woman as were the accusations.
Nevertheless, Thomas Rees, as a creative sculptor, mentioned we live in the 21st century and appeasement towards what a general public thinks is beauty and aesthetic, is not his idea of freedom of creative art and speech, which is the basis of every free society. He added that he doesn’t want the Loretto bath to be the object of precarious discussion and controversy. He finds the verbal battle questionable and unfortunate.
The city of Freiburg and the Association of Friends of Loretto Bath also regretted the affair and thanked Thomas Rees for the constructive offer to take down the wooden sculpture.