Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gothic Egypt

As part of Museums at Night 2011, hundreds of London museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites are unlocking their doors for special evening events over the weekend of May 13-15. On Friday evening, May 13, the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, at University College, London, will be offering a walk through titled “Gothic Egypt.”

Gothic Egypt is an attitude to Egypt. An image of Ancient (and Modern) Egypt based on ideas of decay, an obsession with death, a civilization alien to Western cultural norms. Egypt is related to and yet lies outside the ‘West’ and has been perceived as typifying Oriental excess.

Aside from the exhibits, there are notes on the motif of Egyptian horror, from Bram Stoker to the Hammer films of the 1960s. Referring to Mme. Blavatsky, the program guide says:

The Theosophical Society, originally for the study into medium and spiritualistic traditions and practices, was founded in New York in 1875. One of the founding members was Madame Helena Blavatsky who had lived in Cairo in the early 1870s and published the massive Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology in 1877. Blavatsky attributed the ancients, and in particular the Egyptians, with superior knowledge and wisdom and drew on ancient texts as well as current Egyptology. Of particular significance to her was the Book of the Dead as well as the divine figures of Osiris and Isis….The magical wisdom offered from Ancient Egypt by Queen Tera in [Bram Stoker’s] The Jewel of Seven Stars seems to embody the secret and lost spiritual knowledge revered by Blavatsky and others.

The program guide can be accessed here.

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