Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Peacock Room
A friend who is studying interior design and I went down to the Freer yesterday to see the Peacock Room. Learning is always enhanced by taking a good hard look at what not to do. The Peacock Room is a perfect example of that.
It is a very disturbed space, dark and creepy, overdone in every way possible. Not only does it not enhance the porcelain pieces it was meant to showcase, it renders them pretty much invisible. I can only stand to stay in that room a few minutes before I have to get the hell out of there. It truly is a weird space.
I've always wondered what happened to Whistler while he worked on this room. Most of his art is not nearly so over the top. In the case of the Peacock Room, things definitely got out of hand. Who knows why?
Yesterday, gazing at the fighting peacocks, the Princess from the Land of Porcelain, (I mean, really!) and all that dark paint, the thought came to me that many of my romantic relationships took the same route as that room, beginning so joyfully and with the best of intentions, but eventually becoming overdone, overpainted, overworked. In the end, all my past romantic relationships were terrible burdens that had to be jettisoned. Things always got too heavy to bear.
And yet, the Peacock Room is on permanent display in the Smithsonian. It is honored as art. Isn't that something?
I'm thinking it might be time for me to build an overwrought altar to lost loves, a piece that honors the artfulness of those liaisons, including the artful darkness that brought each and every one of them to their knees. When I build this altar, I will let go of restraint and just keep adding more and more until it's as weird as the Peacock Room. Then what? Maybe I'll bury it, because I'm pretty sure the Smithsonian will not want to display it. We'll have to see.