Mirrors lie.

I remember my introduction to the work of Anish Kapoor very well. It was in aformer textile factory, beautifully converted into a museum for contemporary art in the Dutch city of Tilburg. I found the piece "Descent into Limbo" so utterly brilliant that the name Anish Kapoor was immediately engraved into my memory.

This image of another work by him, Heavenly Gate (or colloquially ‘The Bean’), in Chicago, IL, is quite the opposite of the work in Tilburg. The work in Tilburg exists solely through the absence of any reflection, while the work in this image uses reflection.

The first, and only time, I saw this work I was again in awe. The work seemed like otherworldly in its perfection and disorientation. It also shows why I like to say that you shouldn’t trust mirrors. Mirrors lie! They show you not what is there they show you what your mind thinks is there. Resulting in a distorted picture, just like the mirror-like surface of the Bean. Except in the case of the Bean it is obvious that the reflected image is distorted.

“Darling, you don’t need those. I am your mirror.” “How do I look?” “Fabulous”
— Patsy Stone and Edina Monsoon in AbFab The Movie.

Because all our lives we’ve been taught to trust mirrors, to believe that what they show is what is actually there, it is hard to imagine that this is not the case. Just like we have been taught that we see is what our eyes project on the retina. We don’t see with our eyes, we see with our brain. What we see is an interpretation of the retinal image by the brain.

This is why so many people have a distorted body image (Body Dysmorphic Disorder), the brain changes what the eyes sees, into what it believes is true, or into what it expects to see. So to be fair to the mirrors, I should probably say that it’s not the mirrors that lie, but the brain.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately, and, with the help of professionals, I hope to begin to see what is there, despite the imaginations of my brain.

© AbFab The Movie trailer: Fox Searchlight UK

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