La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour)
wax, clothing, polyester resin with metallic powder, volcanic rock, carpet, glass
"La Nona Ora" [The Ninth Hour] (1999) is Cattelan’s most famous and controversial work. It is a wax figure of Pope Jean Paul II felled by a meteor (errant or perhaps divinely directed). The work takes its title from the hour of Jesus Christ’s death.
In a press article, Cattelan explained the meaning. “I had immense respect for Pope John Paul II. Even old and tired, afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, he still kept doggedly touring the world. For an exhibit I made a statue of the Pope holding his staff with the crucifix on top, and together with my Milanese gallerist friend, I propped him up in a room carpeted in red. The result was appalling.” The work was revised. “We even broke the skylight to make it seem as though the rock were a meteorite sent by God to stop his overzealous servant from accepting any burden. There were some who believed that the work was a provocation and a sign of contempt, but they were way off base: It was actually an act of mercy.”