The Royal Ontario Museum is about collections. It’s about old stuff. And if you ignore the second floor (with its taxidermy and dinosaurs), then you might be impressed like I am by how “human-centric” the collections are.
It’s all about us. What we make, what we use, how we look. It’s like a kind of tagging through the ages. For instance, the glass cases in the Asian galleries contained Buddha and bodhisativas and demons and men of all kinds. Even a few women. And the purpose of the images? To confirm the goodness in us, or to make a mark, a lasting impression? He was there and because of this icon, the future will know him.
I’m overwhelmed by this impression in the Greek and Roman galleries. Figure after human figure. Marble heads. We love looking at ourselves. I’m just realizing it. Our purpose seems to be us. We worship the human form (okay, Islamists might not). There’s something about the human image and our drive to capture it. Does a piece of the soul stay with the creation, as some cultures claim? Perhaps it’s time to burn my self-portraits.
In fact, I found two figures of women, very expressive, in the Egyptian gallery whose souls seemed to still be present. They are dated as pre-dynasty, and were found in the mud of the Nile. I love them for their gestures, so unfathomable after what, 4000 years?
It’s all about us. What we collect, the stories we tell, the clothes we make, the tools we use, the we adorn our bodies. We stand as individuals, as votives representing something, something that we in turn, love to look at. I’m wondering what that might be.