Artful Musing

THE ARTFUL BLOGGER: Life unintentionally imitates Michelangelo’s famous sculpture at the World Press Photo exhibit

By Paul Gessell

World Press Photo of the Year 2011 by Samuel Aranda, Spain, for The New York Times. Fatima al-Qaws cradles her son Zayed (18), who is suffering from the effects of tear gas after participating in a street demonstration, in Sanaa, Yemen.

Sometimes life imitates art. Such is the case with one of the prize-winners in the annual World Press Photo competition on view at the Canadian War Museum.

The dramatic photo shows a mother cradling her injured son. Instantly, you know you have seen this image before, although perhaps not with the conservatively dressed Muslim mother wearing white gloves and swathed head to toe in a black niqab. And despite being unable to see the mother’s face hidden by the niqab, you are very aware of the pain she feels because of her son’s pain.

The image, of course, resembles Michelangelo’s famous sculpture, Pieta, in which the Virgin Mary holds the dead body of Christ. Or maybe the image makes you think of other scenes, all involving a mother and son. That is why Michelangelo’s Pieta strikes a chord with so many people: The scene is universal, depicting the mother-son relationship in any culture. (more…)