Metamorphosispigment print and mixed media, 158x66 cm, 2021
The telling and depicting of the Medusa myth takes different forms during different times. It received a psychoanalytical interpretation, discussed in feminist writing and was used as a fashion house symbol. In the time of the Me Too movement, I find that it is urgent to revisit it once again.
In the Archaic culture Medusa was the Mother Goddess.
The Hellenistic cosmology mortalized her, robbed her of her divinity, only to transform her into a hideous beast, a serpent-haired woman.
According to Ovid, the Gorgon Medusa was raped by Neptune in Minerva’s temple. In what would be identified now as blaming of the victim, her punishment for defiling the temple was triple: her curls turned into snakes, her hands to metal claws. She became a monstrous creature that cannot be in the company of others, for the sight of her would turn them into stone. Then, she was exiled to an island, never to be gazed upon, never to look in another’s eyes. Finally, she was beheaded by Perseus.
Medusa's unjust punishment, her transformation and exile, is in fact her exclusion from the closeness of others. Denying her the basic need for human contact, of being face to face, recognized as a subject.
In this work I step in the long tradition of telling the Medusa tale. I quote masterpieces of painting and sculpture from the Renaissance and Baroque, which focused on Medusa’s severed head. It was important to me to bring back her living body, her warmth and movement, her broken heart, her confusion and anger. The work consists of five variations: four portraits, each quotes a different artwork, and a shattered mirror covered in dark folio. Medusa is not fixed in one final form: she is vibrating, caught in the midst of a transformation which she did not ask for.
By presenting variations, I am signaling that the transformation is not determined. Medusa is not, and never was, just one thing. The shattered mirror invites the viewers to see themselves as the transformed Medusa, and to reflect on the possibility for a different narrative.
Medusa is everywoman. And yet it was important to me to embody her in a photographic self-portrait, for in my artistic praxis my body is just as an important medium as the camera.
This medusa might turn you into stone. She might not. Look at her, and maybe if she chooses to turn her head, she might look back.
Exhibition view: a&o Kunsthalle, Leipzig, 2021