Artist, Alex Rietveld’s, “Venus de Biomechanica” Is an interpretation of the classic sculpture, “Venus de Milo.”
His approach of the famous sculpture suggested the faster paced society in which we live, placing great importance on manipulating our image. That’s what I saw, anyway. This female form was armless, just like the classic work. However, the more modern “add-ons” included what looked like a gas mask and a machine gun arm strapped to the statue. And then there was some strange looking headpiece, worn like a tiara, possibly some monitoring device for the female’s electrode responses. It was far from the classic Greek form we know both in the art world and in popular culture today.
Yes, Venus has been referenced by the likes of Miles Davis and Chuck Berry in their music, as well as popping up in such television shows as “The Simpsons” and “Twin Peaks.” I’ve even seen her as a kitchen magnet and a carved bar of soap. Venus is everywhere.
And it’s no wonder. After all, she was originally regarded, adored and worshipped as Aphrodite, “the love goddess,” the epitome of all that is feminine, graceful and beautiful. Then it should come as no shock that she’s still influential here and now. And, whether it’s her original form or interpretations like “Venus de Biomechanica,” something is still not lost on me: the impact of her arms, or rather, lack of them.
I admit to being biased. Because of the filter of eating disorder experiences, ones which I’ve now come to view matters of image, beauty and power, I read something more with her. The missing arms, to me, represent powerlessness, both emanating from and co-existing with her emphasized physical beauty. No matter what we may espouse concerning intellect, character, kindness and all manner of “inner beauty,” we still have rampant eating disorders, diets and plastic surgery going on in our world today. It seems everyone wants to be eternally young, beautiful, thin and perfect.
Years ago, a study was done of children who were given the choice between being overweight or losing their limbs. Overwhelmingly, most of these children chose to lose their limbs instead of being the dreaded “f” word: “fat.”
Is that the message? Beauty at all cost? It needs to be achieved, even employing harmful methods?
So, the instruction to this harmful heart attitude also exists.
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”
1 John 5:21
A statue is just a statue. In and of itself, it cannot do anything positive for us.
“What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.” Habakkuk 2:18-19
It is a dumb idol, no matter how beautiful it may be.
If our hearts get caught up in it as representing something “God-like,” however, then we have a big problem; then it becomes harmful to our souls. Let’s not forget a pretty hefty commandment:
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
God doesn’t give us this commandment because He wishes to take away our joy and fun in life. No, instead, He knows the harm which comes from idolatry, getting our hopes pinned on something which will only fail and disappoint us in the end. It detracts from us living a fulfilling life and distracting us from engaging in a real relationship with a loving God and Father.
“Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.” 1 Corinthians 8:7
We give our strength and ourselves to something which will one day vanish. As wonderful as the “Venus de Milo” is, one day she will crumble. One day, youth will fade. One day, our “permanent solutions” will fail us.
So, why, exactly, do we try to conform to something which is not God? When that conforming fails us, then what?
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2
God has not called us to be crafted after a powerless image. Scripture tells us…
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
But it’s based on His Image, not anyone or anything else’s image.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27
Can we dare to bravely pursue that concept? Can we dare to pursue God? Our decision could determine between the powerful and the powerless result.
Leave the manufactured/ manipulated image behind! We are more than any Venus!
Let’s be “armed” with who God has created us to be!