Pygmalion's Nightmare, VII Century b.C. ca.
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Pygmalion's Nightmare


Artist: Unknown

Year: V. Century BCE

Location: Medma, Calabria

Dimensions: 1,5 × 2,3 × 3,5 meters

Technique: Marble Sculpture

Exhibition Site: Hellenic Great Archive

Description: The artwork, redesignated as "Pygmalion’s Nightmare" by the Tutor of the hellenic center, consists of two humanoid marble figures set on a bronze pedestal.
At the center of the pedestal is a naked female figure whose arms are stretched pointing outward.
Whereas, the second figure appears to depict the sculptor. It is kneeling towards the female sculpture and shows a surprised espression on its face. The sculpture is dressed in a way that can be traced back to the V. Century BCE Greece, the possible year of the artwork’s realization.

Uniqueness: The prolonged observation of the artwork causes the observer’s body to turn into marble.
Starting from the body's appendices, it becomes irreversible after 15 minutes of continuous observation of the artwork.
If the period of observation is less than 15 minutes, the transformation into marble will automatically reverse over a few days.
After twenty consecutive, total minutes, the observer will approach the pedestal and then pose. Then he will stop moving and will not react to external stimulations.
The marble transformation accelerates immediately after, ending in less than 2 minutes.
Most of the time, the assumed pose varies depending on the person, but it tends to be dramatic.
Generally the transformation tends not to be irreversible, as the observer immediately notices the effects of the artwork on himself and looks away.
An additional effect occurs if the observer considers the female figure "attractive".
He will find himself greatly interested in the female figure of the artwork, feeling a kind of "sense of jealusy" towards the male figure.
Over time this leads, especially after the transformation becomes irreversible, to a strong hatred towards the male figure, causing in very few cases violence towards it1.

Conservation: Given the uniqueness of the artwork, performing restorations proves to be a difficult and lenghty undertaking.
The restoration has to be performed in turns of 5 minutes each, in order to mainten the "Assistants" health.
The"Assistants" must constantly check their hands and stop as soon as their fingers stop moving with ease.
The artwork is currently in good condition, after performing a constant restoration for 35 months.

Critical Judgement: The artwork features noticeable details in the male figure, especially in the hair and clothing.
The proportions of the body are essentially perfect.
The female figure also has good proportions, but has less detail than the other statue.
The pedestal does not have any finishing touches.
Nonetheless, this is one of the best artwork exposed at the hellenic centre.

Christophe Galanopoulos


Circa V. Century BCE: An unknown author sculpts the artwork in the city of Medma, Calabria

1913: The artwork is found during the archaeological excavations along with other humanoid marble statues.

May 12th 1914: The artwork is transported to the London British Museum, along with the other artworks recovered in its original location. It will then be left in the museum warehouses and, supposedly, ignored.

1918: Various artworks are evacuated from the British Museum, due to the threat of bombings on the city. Traces of the work are lost.

February 15th 1923: The artwork is aquired by the greek Tutor at an auction in Tirana, Albania.

January 24th 1924: The artwork is on display at the Hellenic Great Archive.

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