Deborah DeNicola, “The Big Enigma” (2021)

“The Big Enigma” is a poem included in the collection The Impossible by Deborah DeNicola, published by Kelsay Books in 2021. Of the inspiration for the poem, DeNicola explains, “In the end of the Inferno, there are souls under the ice. Only their faces are visible and they cry tears that freeze and poke them in the eyes. My poem references this because it is about a heart break that was very hard to get over. I never knew why this person madly loved me for quite a while and then went cold. And more to the point, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get over it for a long, long time, hence, the title ‘The Big Enigma’ and the reference to torment” (DeNicola, in a personal email communication).

The Impossible is available for purchase on Amazon. Our thanks to the author for permission to reprint.

Jim Shaw, Donald and Melania Trump descending the escalator into the 9th circle of hell reserved for traitors frozen in a sea of ice (2020)

Jim Shaw’s silkscreen print Donald and Melania Trump descending the escalator into the 9th circle of hell reserved for traitors frozen in a sea of ice (2020) depicts the former US President and First Lady passing into the ninth circle, populated by members of the Trump inner circle: John Bolton, Michael Cohen, Omarosa Manigault, Anthony Scaramucci, Jeff Sessions, and others. The lake of Cocytus appears to have been displaced to the ground floor of a dilapidated American shopping mall.

Simon Lee Gallery describes Shaw’s collected works thus: “The practice of American artist Jim Shaw (b. 1952, Midland, Michigan) spans a wide range of artistic media and visual imagery. Since the 1970s, Shaw has mined the detritus of American culture, finding inspiration for his artworks in comic books, pulp novels, rock albums, protest posters, thrift store paintings – his ever-growing collection of found artworks has been the subject of its own exhibition on several occasions – and advertisements. At the same time, Shaw has consistently turned to his own life and, in particular, his unconscious, as a source of artistic creativity. Providing a blend of the personal, the commonplace and the uncanny, Shaw’s works frequently place in dialogue images of friends and family members with world events, pop culture and alternate realities. Often unfolding in long-term, narrative cycles, the works contains systems of cross-references and repetitions, which rework similar symbols and motifs, allowing a story-like thread to be perceived.”   –“Biography,” Simon Lee Gallery

See a discussion of Shaw’s exhibit Hope Against Hope, hosted by the Simon Lee Gallery (London) from October 20, 2020, to January 16, 2021, in The Art Newspaper.

Contributed by Deborah Parker (University of Virginia)

The Sin of Silence

“In the Inferno, Dante Alighieri, a critic in his day of Church leadership, famously put the souls of at least three popes in hell, as well as countless other clerics who go nameless, their faces blackened beyond recognition. However, one cleric he does meet along the way is Ruggieri degli Ubaldini (d. 1295), the archbishop of Pisa, who notoriously arrested the city’s strongman, Ugolino della Gherardesca (1220-1289), along with several members of his family, and starved them to death in a tower.

“Dante’s fantastical encounter with Ruggieri and Ugolino in the Inferno takes place on a vast lake of ice near the bottom of hell. Here, frozen for eternity, are the souls of sinners condemned for treason: some for betraying their city or country, and others for betraying their kinsmen. Dante is not far from the bottom of the pit, where he will soon come face to face with Satan, a giant demon, frozen in ice to his waist, who eternally chews on the bodies of three of history’s most infamous traitors, Brutus and Cassius, who betrayed Julius Caesar, and Judas Iscariot. Three pairs of legs dangle from the demon’s mouth.

“As Dante pushes on across the lake, he sees two souls frozen in the same hole. They are encased in ice up to their necks. One of them is repeatedly sinking his teeth into the skull of the other, like a dog gnawing a bone. He is startled by Dante’s presence. He takes his mouth from his “savage meal” and wipes his lips on the other’s hair. He introduces himself as Count Ugolino. ‘And this,’ he says of the other, ‘is the Archbishop Ruggieri.’

“Ugolino and Ruggieri were Dante’s contemporaries. Both where partisans in a conflict between two armed factions that roiled much of Italy in the thirteenth century, and both were accused of treason, Ugolino, Pisa’s podestà or political leader, for switching sides in the conflict, and Ruggieri, a sometime ally of Ugolino’s, for rising up against him and for capturing him by deception. Dante knew the story, which, when passed through his poetic imagination, comes down to us as one the most disturbing passages in the Inferno.” […]    –James Soriano, Crisis Magazine, October 8, 2018

Nuggets’ Ninth Circle of Hell

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Posted on the blog Ink & Snow (December 21, 2012).

Dante: Restaurant-Bar and Ice Cube

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[…] “Preserved in ice. Gaze down at the huge ice cube floating in your old-fashioned at Dante, the Italian-style aperitif bar in Greenwich Village, and you’ll have no doubt about where you’re drinking. Cut into the side of the frozen block is the bar’s poetic name.” […]   –Robert Simonson, New York Times, May 15, 2015

Read more about Dante’s award-winning success here.

Dante: 79-81 Macdougal Street, NY, NY 10012

 

“Let it Go,” Dante’s Inferno Version (2014)

Let it Go

As part of a short film, “Chauncy Cobra and the Writing on the Wall,” students wrote and performed a parody of “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen. In the song, Dante laments his time spent in Hell, begging Beatrice, “Let me go!”

Watch the music video here.

 

Contributed by Mary Margaret Blum (Gettysburg College, ’18)

2014 Winter Olympics Bid: Sochi vs. 9th Circle

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Somewhat Topical Ecards, February 7, 2014

 

Diana Puntar, “Less Than Day, or Night” (2007)

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Less Than Day, Or Night, my recent sculptural installation at PS1 Contemporary Art Center, continues to explore what I call ‘homemade futurism.’ The piece is inspired by the final cantos of Dante’s Inferno in which Dante, led by Virgil, enters the freezing central pit of hell. At the end, as the pair climb their way out, Dante believes he is descending and becomes disoriented as they reach the top. Like many of us, he is fundamentally confused about the orientation of the world. I find it comforting to know that this kind of basic uncertainty has been with us for centuries.” [. . .]    –Diana Puntar, NY Arts Magazine

Contributed by Patrick Molloy