I remove the top from the package
my laptop computer comes in
which is made out of white matte cardboard
that fits closely with the box’s other parts.
It feels good to do it. The computer
is cradled in a piece of moulded plastic.
The shiny sleeve that initially
surrounds the computer to protect it
and which is meant to be discarded
is like the section of marble sculpture
that has been heavily polished
to convey Christ’s moisture or sweat
and which signifies the unqualified
difficulty through which he had labored
to secure his indicated destruction.
The sculptor no doubt had his own
moments of suffering
as he worked to make this sweat
express itself in the marble like it does,
probably feeling closer to the root
of his work as a result of that feeling.
And equally for Christ, there was an
important kernel of beauty
that bore into the compliant reception
of the circumstances articulated
in this sculpture.
The surrounding box would be the arms
of his mother. The central signature
across her chest would be an apple.
The impersonal shape of the box
and of the computer itself would be
the facial expressions of both the mother
and of her son, respectively.
Their eyes are affectless. If their energy
was present, it seems to have drained.
The only emotion you might read in Christ
is one of acceptance, not of his circumstance
but of the emotions of a viewer. His face
is a container, its eyelids clamshell-like,
and his mother’s, which are slightly open
as they descends to meet the center
of her son’s body are less smooth for being open
and contain more detail. They could be
unfocused, or focused on her nose’s wide bridge
in a moment of meditation or prayer.
It is only with her hand
that she directs her feelings outwards,
in an invitation for the viewer to turn back
to examine himself. As a side note,
you can no longer touch the actual content
of this sculpture. After an attempted desecration
it was placed behind bulletproof glass
and so even more so than before
you cannot do more than look at it.
The sculptor succeeded in foreshortening
Christ’s body (so that he fits inside
of the pyramidal constraints of his mother’s
lap and arms) without compromising
its quality or realness.
It is useful to consider the youthfulness
and beauty of the mother, her equal-
seeming age to her son.
Defeated and lifeless, he crumples inward
while at the same time his neck and head and face
direct themselves upward
into the ceiling or the sky, as though at any second,
the viewer knows, he could burst into light
and prompt me with instructions.
Jonathan Aprea is a writer and a photographer living in New York. You can find him on the web at jonathanaprea.com.