TURN THE OTHER CHEEK
Dettoni’s sculpture “Turn the other cheek” presentation text of the sculpture by Miriam Diez Bosch published in the book: L’ULL DE LA VIOLENCIA -The Eye of the Violence– ISBN:978.84-9136-088-9 – several authors along with the images of sculpture.
The Reversible Peace
Reflection on the work ‘Turning the other cheek‘ by Guido Dettoni.
Míriam Díez Bosch PhD
Vicedegana de Recerca, Postgrau i Relacions Internacionals
Directora Observatori Blanquerna de Comunicació, Religió i Cultura
Turning the other cheek can become an insolent gesture: where traditionally we have seen the greatness of Christianity, in a world without references, it can become a provocation. You have wounded me, I challenge you to make more war. Aristotle distinguished between natural and violent movements. There are natural actions, like a piece of roof falling. It falls. It is not forced. It falls, but when I intentionally throw a stone, a missile, a poisoned word, that is an explicit act of violence.
Guido Dettoni is a pacifist of the stone. Already with his famous and revolutionary ‘Maria‘, a sculpture of the Virgin Mary made to be ‘touched’, he broke the silence and ventured into an unusual Marian tangibility. Now, with the sculpture ‘Turning the Other Cheek‘, he traces that peaceful yet dynamic thread that characterises his work. Peace is not a state of unconsciousness, but the result of tension, renunciation and containment. In a sculpture, without containment, we would still have amorphous pieces of matter. It is in sensitivity and limitation that the piece is realised.
The face that Dettoni offers us is not complete, because violence always leaves partiality. If we move this face, there is an angle from which it hints at a smile. Unmasking violence, often concealed under parameters of self-defence, is easier with a smile. This sculpture is not violent. Nevertheless, it throws us into the space where violence is possible. There can always be a violent gesture that sweeps away an irenic situation. From one moment to the next, violence, -which is the child of nature and digs its lair in the bowels of the most human- infiltrates itself.
Turning the other cheek for Guido Dettoni is following Jesus’ exhortation to welcome the aggressor and renounce revenge and all violence. In the Gospel we read that if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also (Matthew 5:39). The artist, with this sculpture, wanted to say visually and tactilely, how he interprets this sentence from the Gospel. He has modelled a hand-sized object that represents a face in which the left half loses the anatomical relief of the face to accommodate the palm of the hand that strikes the cheek and, inevitably, takes it making it his own. It is a movement that grasps without letting go, that completes itself while emptying itself.
Jesus’ request is not an easy thing. He asks to turn the other cheek. Dettoni sees, in the act of striking a second time, the awareness of the first violence exercised.
The face, a condensation of the whole person, is accepted and it is the hand that, striking it, takes it. Guido Dettoni believes that Jesus’ exhortation points to a path of peace based on understanding our gesture that can lead to empathy: “Do it again, hit me again, so you will understand what you have done! Evil is not answered with evil but with a revolutionary act such as loving the enemy. This is a response that hits full force and destabilises the talion law and revenge: Christianity in its purest state. The materiality of this hold cheek presented by Dettoni is an invitation to bear the pulse of peace, a peace that does not come by stopping the blow, but by creating the conditions for the possibility of another blow.
And it is perhaps here, in this disarming, that the aggressor can glimpse that his violent act is futile.
To offer the cheek is to offer the face, and to offer the face is to offer the soul. To caress the cheek is to approach the inner gaze that perceives everything. The cheek is the embodiment of this will to make peace in spite of violence. The sculpture speaks and distils a soft musicality with vibrations, pinches. It is not a screaming sculpture, nor is it a silent sculpture. The violence is deafening. The peace that emerges from this image, on the other hand, comes quietly.