In the Victoria and Albert Museum in London there are two large halls called the Cast Courts. These galleries house plaster reproductions of some of the most famous sculptures in the world, many of them wearing better than the originals, given their protection from the elements. (I haven’t been to Florence but I have seen Michelangelo’s “David” thanks to this display). Strangely, these rooms feel more like warehouses than galleries, given that what they contain, impressively rendered though they may be, are only copies. It is a crowded space with the likenesses of famous sculptures lined up row after row. It is at once exhilarating and disconcerting, reminding me of the closing scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when the Ark of the Covenant is unceremoniously crated up and placed into an enormous government depository.
I am mindful of this: if you settle for being a copy you can still look impressive but you will be lost in the crowd, your plaster preventing you from doing anything other than staying in a protected space. When you are original to yourself, your contribution to the world intensively carved out of your very best marble, you will find your own ground on which to stand. Yes, you will be beaten up by time and exposure as you must surely be, but that it is how you will know, once and for all, that you’re not faking it anymore.