Pelletti: Broken Blue

“The blue of the sky depends on the darkness of empty space behind it.… In which case blue is something of an ecstatic accident produced by void and fire,” writes Maggie Nelson in Bluets. In other words, to reference Thich Nhat Hanh, “No mud, no lotus.” We need the broken parts of us to reflect what is whole — to remind us that we are innately whole.

The resurgent art movement around this these days (thanks in part to Emily McDowell) is kintsugi, which is the Japanese art of using gold-dusted lacquer to repair cracked pottery. The cracks are a part of the object’s history, versus a blight meant to be repressed.

So, too, do we see this at work in Massimiliano Pelletti. Echoing classical sculpture, even calling to mind a bit of Call Me By Your Name, Pelletti’s busts of Zeus and Venus appear broken, weathered, or worn, but at the same time their broken bits reveal glittering geodes. A consolation of the cracks.

His 2017 work in this series, Broken Blue, is the focus for today, however, not only because of the connection of the color blue to the mood of "blue-ness," but also because it is representative of a human versus a god. The Bolivian sodalite used for the sculpture is broken down the middle. Perhaps more powerful, it doesn’t glitter with quartz inside, but instead the two halves of this bust — placed a hair’s breadth apart from one another — still reveal a sense of wholeness.

Like the Alps of Godly’s hell, we can use the Gestalt principle of closure to see the full picture. We can see the figure of the man despite the space where he is torn. We may not always have something glittering to fill in the space of our wounded and broken parts, but we can still find a hidden wholeness.

Today’s Contemplation: Think about a recent moment in which you felt broken or not your best self. Perhaps it was this morning when you snapped at someone on the subway or stole someone’s cab. Perhaps it was the heartbreak of not landing a job you really wanted, or losing a friendship you had treasured. Can you invite that feeling of brokenness come in, that feeling of not-enoughness, and hold space for it? Can you place your attention on it, perhaps even offering yourself a bit of lovingkindness, as a means of loosening the storyline around it? Can you see yourself as intrinsically whole in spite of — or even because of — these human moments?