The Metamorphosis of Narcissus – by Tamara Vardomskaya– (Cdn – Toronto)
Premise: A model willingly surrenders herself to the whims of a cruel and narcissistic artist whose state-of-the-art methods (beyond today’s technology) not only questions but threatens to destroy the traditional meaning and purpose of art.
I am very much reminded of Salvador Dali and his muse Gala, whose “divine” unity of inspiration was the perfect vehicle for Dali’s insanely self-centred but highly gifted vision of the hidden symbolism latent in the world enveloping him. A more personal approach to art can scarcely be imagined. The artist Avardi and his muse Oinhoa are very similar and are probably based on the character of Gala-Dali (as Dali often signed himself).
However, they are mere backdrop to the protagonist, a female dancer (we never learn her name, and neither does Avardi) who, recruited by Oinhoa, willingly submerges her identity in order to BE art rather than merely serve art. But, it turns out, self-sacrifice in the name of art pales before the sacrifices demanded by war.
Rating: Interesting. Very much a glimpse into the mindset of someone who takes art way too seriously. It captures both the pretense and the fanaticism of those involved with art for art’s sake, though in this particular instance, in a curiously prosaic and practical manner. Disturbingly realistic, methinks, in spirit. The writing, on the other hand, in its description, from time to time approaches the surreal in order to convey both the mood and the setting proper to Avardi’s grand vision. This combination, realism and surrealism, is blended quite well. A neat trick. It works.
My only problem is I have no sympathy or empathy for the model. She strikes me as an idiot. But then, while I’m a huge fan of Salvador Dali, I think people who take him seriously are idiots too. Certainly he never took himself seriously. He had nothing but contempt for people who did, and was always quick to take advantage of them. This story an interesting and convincing case study of the type of “born-victim” individual that so-called “genius” artists often attract.