Vatican Museum: Sphere Within a Sphere, Patterns Repeat In Time

Perhaps, as a centerpiece, the golden orb represents the sun, in relation to which the Vatican takes a step aside.

VATICAN MUSEUM
PHOTO DRISANA MISRA 

Blank-eyed kings, faces chipping against the winds of time, bore through the golden orb, while some gods speak out against it, mouth agape and words frozen. From their perspective, the sculpture looks like the Coliseum floating within a golden sphere. Within this spatial configuration in the Vatican Museum’s Courtyard of the Pinecone, the pillared cracks in the orb imply the spectacle of gladiator battles, so that, in conjunction with the pagan onlookers, the sculpture seems to cry out against spectacle, against itself. The tribulations of modernity are found in the burden of self-awareness.

VATICAN MUSEUM
PHOTO DRISANA MISRA 

The sculpture, “Sphere within a Sphere,” by Arnoldo Pomodoro also concerns the complexities of the inside/outside binary, representing the difficulties of the modern era. The inner side of the outer sphere is lined with teeth, just like those locking against each other in the inner sphere, yet despite the harsh teeth rubbing against it, the outer crust of the inner sphere is liquid smooth. Though the jaws of the inner sphere have yet to generate a placid world within, like a pearl budding from an oyster, patterns repeat in time.

I approached the sphere and watched as my countenance melted into liquid sun. I walked around the heavenly body, amazed at how mercurial was perspective, how sometimes there was a city, sometimes one sphere, sometimes two sphere, thousands of images flashed before me. I was unable to absorb the piece as a whole. Though thrilled, I was confused as to why such a sculpture would fashion the centerpiece of the Vatican Museum’s courtyard.

VATICAN MUSEUM
PHOTO DRISANA MISRA 

Perhaps, as a centerpiece, the golden orb represents the sun, in relation to which the Vatican takes a step aside, rectifying its long-time rejection of the heliocentric model.  This awareness of one’s relation to the universe is a hallmark of modernity, and “Sphere within a Sphere” seemed like open acknowledgement of displacement, a testimony to the Vatican’s acceptance of science and technology.

After all, residing next to the sun is the best any of us can do these days.

VATICAN MUSEUM
PHOTO DRISANA MISRA 

Drisana Misra

Originally from Mountain Brook, AL, Drisana can't travel without a compilation of short stories. Her secret travel tip is, "Write down every reflection, no matter how stupid and even if you think you’ll remember it later."

Jetset Times in your inbox

Sign-up for our newsletter

By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy and European users agree to the data transfer policy.