Socio political feminist conceptual art that explores the silencing of women and oppression by the patriarchy; the work examines the parallels of repetition though history from the classics. The plethora of visualisations that present the submissive and dominated female as victim requires analysis to counter the domestic and casual familiarity of that imagery. Do the arts have a vital role to visualise a new future for women that is different from the existing history?
A collection of etchings
The poem, Metamporphoses, written by Ovid and published around 8AD is the main reference for this work. The images use the characters of Leda and Swan alongside the stories surrounding Daphne, Medusa and Philomela. Using Leda and Zeus in the form of a swan, the metamorphosis, punishment and brutalisation experienced by the women is re-visualised upon Zeus; to change the outcome and experience for women as a warning to the patriarchy.
The decision to use the myth of Leda is as a result of the plethora of imagery that has been created surrounding the myth that normalises and domesticates gendered violence against women. The other three female protagonists have been chosen as they have been represented multiple times in the visual arts in addition to influencing further works of literature that encompass greater brutalisation. The overarching intention is to initiate change, metamorphose a warning that shows the God Zeus being punished rather than a woman as has become an accepted written text for two thousand years.
Using the poem of Leda and the Swan by W.B. Yates, the original is modified; words are omitted or replaced, creating a metamorphosed poem that creates a new outcome for Leda. In the new poems, she is not assaulted and brutalised, she kills the myth, achieves power and writes a new empowered future.
Classical women with contemporary counterparts in speech.
The starting point, as with earlier works, began by re-looking at Mary Beard’s Women and Power and her explanation of a woman’s voice being silenced by her young son in public, written late 8th Century BC, into Western text through Homer’s Odyssey. In understanding the scene, Telemachus, a teenage boy sends his mother back to her women’s work and proclaims that authoritative speech – ‘muthos’ - is for men. ‘It is still the case that when listeners hear a female voice, they do not hear a voice that connotes authority; or rather they have not learned how to hear authority in it; they don’t hear muthos.’ (Beard, 2017, p30)
The idea emerged to combine a classical representation of female characters that have been subjected to some form of compromise; these include Leda, Medusa and Io, in conjunction with women from the present era, speaking out on behalf of society. The misogynistic abuse against women who use their voices to speak up and speak out in society meant that I chose to include those who use their voices such as Mhairi Black, Park Yeon-mi and Ifeoma Fafunwa.