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The "Dies Irae" Plates

2023 - 2024

The Dies Irae is a poem, and also a prayer, which was probably written in the thirteenth Century, which is used in the sequence of the Roman Rite Requiem (or Mass for the Dead).  Although it is not known who originally wrote the text, it has been set to music many times, and it was in this form that it first entered my consciousness (Mozart, K 626, circa 1986). The Latin text is written in rhyming triplets; when translated into English, you can preserve either the meaning, or the metre and rhyme, but not both; that is why I *had* to use the Latin text in this series of works. These six plates are about the very human issues of judgment and accusation. The words of the Dies Irae are there as a kind of protective charm.  The prayer is a prayer for judgment, but also for mercy.

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The Plates

The Dies Irae is written in triplets, save for the Lacrimosa, which consists of a pair of couplets.  I felt strongly that these plates needed to be a set of either three, six, or nine.  The "face" plates came first.  I used my own likeness, just for the sake of avoiding some of the issues associated with plastering an accusation on someone's head and drowning them in spaghetti.  After that, the imagery of the "Lacrimosa" led me to the plate of "water" (or "tears"), and the human heart came last.

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