Author(s): Dorrian M
Abstract: This paper examines the relation between visual and acoustic monstrosity as articulated in the myth of the musical contest waged between Apollo and Marsyas. Drawing upon Jean-Pierre Vernant’s writing on the gorgon, the paper notes how Marsyas’ playing of the instrument is positioned within a mimetics of monstrosity that lead back to Medusa. The paper demonstrates how the punishment of flaying subsequently exacted by the god upon the vanquished satyr has stood as a kind of limit condition of what sight can bear, a thematic that returns us to Medusa herself. Citing Zbigniew Herbert’s poem, “Apollo and Marsyas” (1961), in which the petrifying visual effect of the gorgon becomes transferred onto Marsyas’ howl, a new reading of Anish Kapoor’s installation Marsyas (2002) is developed, which reads it – in its overwhelming visual phonicity – as a silent sound work.
Keywords: Marsyas; Apollo; Kapoor; myth; monstrosity; flaying; sound