Mount Purgatory , 2023
60 x 31 x 1 in (h x w x d)
777 USD
Digital
reserved

In Dante Alighieri's "Purgatorio," Purgatory consists of an island mountain, the only piece of land in the southern hemisphere. It is designed to purify the soul before entering Paradiso or Heaven.

An underworld where spirits segue into after death has always been part of humankind’s psyche. Around the world, various cultures have names for "Paradiso" or "Inferno," but there is no Purgatory in the Bible.

It may come as a surprise that the concept of Purgatory was a relatively new idea during Dante's time. It was introduced in the twelfth century, probably by French theologians. This idea of a transitional space for sinners who had repented but still needed to work on their souls was a great comfort to the believers and a profitable business for the Catholic Church. By the late Middle Ages, you could significantly reduce your sentence in Purgatory by paying a large sum of money to a "pardoner," just like the pilgrim in Chaucer's story, and was skewered by Dante as Simony. Simony refers to the sin of attempting to exchange money or favors (paying one's way into Heaven) or for power or positions in Christian institutions, namely the Catholic Church in this case.

Purgatory serves as a bridge between Earth and Heaven, where souls who have repented for their sins on Earth can be further cleansed before they can enter paradise. The mountain itself is emblematic of this purification process; the higher one climbs up the mountain, the higher the level of purification and the closer one gets to Paradise. The souls in Purgatory must face their sins head-on, and must also confront the aspects of themselves that they have denied or ignored during their lifetime.

However, I wanted to depict Mount Purgatory not as the island ziggurat as Dante described but as a hill town with a somewhat ominous vibe. It's not as obvious as heaven or hell, but there is something about it. In the distance, a tower looms and must be climbed. What I imagine is that the journey through Purgatory, while still difficult, becomes an ascent toward enlightenment and redemption. Rather than being a place of punishment, it is a space for growth and self-reflection.

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