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Innula Zenovka

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JKR will have something to say about the press release, though.
The company, which has the biggest colour matching system in the world, relied on by the global design industry, from graphic design to fashion, product design to printing, said the new shade was “an active and adventurous red hue” that it hoped would “embolden people who menstruate to feel proud of who they are”.
 
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Not everyone likes it (sculptor is a man, no pubes, don’t get it because Poseidon was who actually raped her, etc.) but I like it.

NEW YORK - MWTH project and NYC Parks is pleased to present Medusa With The Head of Perseus by Argentine-Italian artist Luciano Garbati in Collect Pond Park, located on Centre St, Lower Manhattan, as part of NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program. The seven-foot bronze sculpture inverts the narrative of Medusa, portraying her in a moment of somberly empowered self-defense. Medusa With The Head of Perseus will be on view from October 13, 2020 - April 30, 2021.

In Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Medusa was a maiden in the temple of Athena, who was stalked and raped by Poseidon. Athena, in a rage, banishes and curses Medusa with a monstrous head of snakes and a gaze which turns men to stone. Medusa is herself blamed and punished for the crime of which she was the victim; she is cast away as a monster and then with the cruel assistance of Athena and Poseidon, eventually is hunted-down and beheaded by the epic hero Perseus, who displays her head as a trophy on his shield. Garbati’s sculpture speaks directly to the 16th Century Florentine bronze masterpiece Perseus with the Head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini (1545-1554). Through this work, Garbati asks “how can a triumph be possible if you are defeating a victim?”

This narrative of victim-shaming in stories of sexual violence echoes through time, and into the present day “me too” movement. In 2018, Garbati posted a photograph of his original sculpture to social media. This re-imagined Medusa went viral and became a symbol of resistance worldwide, inspiring thousands of women to reach out and share their own stories. Garbati’s Medusa questions the mythic figure’s characterization as a monster, and investigates the woman behind the myth.
 

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I'd have thought the goddess Nemesis might be more appropriate. Or possibly the Morrigan.
Do either of them have a mythos that can be turned on its...head to make a point?
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Do either of them have a mythos that can be turned on its...head to make a point?
No, but I don't see how the mythos is being turned on its head, because I don't what the story of Perseus killing Medusa has to do with the story of Medusa being raped by Neptune.

Perseus, in the story, goes after Medusa only because he's been tricked into promising King Polydectes that he will, and as far as Perseus' story is concerned, she's just another of those pesky monsters that infest the eastern Med until some hero comes along and deals with them, usually with divine assistance -- there's no connection between the two tales.

I was familiar, of course, with the story of Medusa and Perseus, but if I ever knew that she'd been raped by Neptune, I'd forgotten all about it, and I was quite good at Latin at school (though I read Juvenal rather than Ovid for that part of the syllabus).

I'd always thought she was a gorgon because she was born that way, like her two sisters, but for some reason she was a mortal one, in human form (apart from the hair, of course).

ETA: Maybe Leda wringing the swan's neck, or taking a hatchet to it, would work for a statue?
 
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No, but I don't see how the mythos is being turned on its head, because I don't what the story of Perseus killing Medusa has to do with the story of Medusa being raped by Neptune.
Medusa was a victim, and not just because of her rape by Poseidon. Her "monster" status was set upon her by Athena. So not only did she have to live with the repercussions of a violent act, she was punished for that crime even though it was committed against her.

As for the statue as a symbol of the #MeToo movement, the way I see it is that Perseus merely represents a culture that treats women as responsible for the harassment and violence done to them.
 
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Regarding the choice of "Medusa With The Head of Perseus" as #MeToo art, I think a better point of contention might be:

 

Innula Zenovka

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Medusa was a victim, and not just because of her rape by Poseidon. Her "monster" status was set upon her by Athena. So not only did she have to live with the repercussions of a violent act, she was punished for that crime even though it was committed against her.

As for the statue as a symbol of the #MeToo movement, the way I see it is that Perseus merely represents a culture that treats women as responsible for the harassment and violence done to them.
And what I'm saying is that Medusa ever having been raped, or ever having been human in the first place, is part of the myth of which few people can have been aware, and is, in fact, quite a late addition to the mythos, by Ovid.

Ovid, in effect, wrote a prequel to an established story and I'm pretty sure that, at least until this week, the vast majority of people (me included) had no idea Medusa had been raped by Neptune or had ever been a priestess of Athena or anyone else, though the story of Perseus and Medusa is pretty well-known.

Certainly if I were trying to think of a famous rape survivor in classical literature, it would be Persephone, Philiomel, Lucrece, or the Sabine and the Trojan women (particularly Cassandra).
 
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And what I'm saying is that Medusa ever having been raped, or ever having been human in the first place, is part of the myth of which few people can have been aware, and is, in fact, quite a late addition to the mythos, by Ovid.

Ovid, in effect, wrote a prequel to an established story and I'm pretty sure that, at least until this week, the vast majority of people (me included) had no idea Medusa had been raped by Neptune or had ever been a priestess of Athena or anyone else, though the story of Perseus and Medusa is pretty well-known.

Certainly if I were trying to think of a famous rape survivor in classical literature, it would be Persephone, Philiomel, Lucrece, or the Sabine and the Trojan women (particularly Cassandra).
It's likely a lot of the people who are setting up the statue don't know about that part of her story, as well. They probably just liked the idea of Perseus getting his head cut off, instead of what we've been told.

You do realize the people who erected the statue didn't make it, right? (Well, they did make the statue - but they just bronzed it.) It was sculpted over a decade ago. All the rape survivors in myth you mention, do they have modern artistic equivalents to fit the subject?
 
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Speaking of late additions to myths.

Medusa was one of three Gorgon "sisters." Traditionally, Gorgons were said to be immortal, god-like, basically unkillable by humans. So how was Perseus able to slay Medusa? Well, in later Grecian myths, it turned out she was the only one who wasn't immortal. And who's to say the story behind her mortality wasn't something along the lines of Ovid's poem, only not yet written down or in writings lost to us.

It's a strange thing about myths - they're always being "rewritten."
 
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Innula Zenovka

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It's likely a lot of the people who are setting up the statue don't know about that part of her story, as well. They probably just liked the idea of Perseus getting his head cut off, instead of what we've been told.

You do realize the people who erected the statue didn't make it, right? (Well, they did make the statue - but they just bronzed it.) It was sculpted over a decade ago. All the rape survivors in myth you mention, do they have modern artistic equivalents to fit the subject?
When the artist made the original statue, he made it for whatever his purpose was, and the piece existed in a particular context, in dialogue with particular renaissance and classical traditions in representation.

Now, however, the piece has been removed from that context and placed in a very different one, deliberately chosen as a work of public art, outside a criminal court, intended to send a message about about rape, and rape survivors, but the more I try to understand what that message is, given the context and the very specific subject matter, the more confused I become.

I can see how she's an image of a powerful woman who has had enough of male violence, from Perseus or anyone else, and won't take any more of it, but in that case her rape becomes simply an example of the male violence to which she's responding, not the main point of the work.

Maybe that's the whole point, but I'm not sure.

If only Artemisia Gentileschi had made some sculptures

 
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Innula Zenovka

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Speaking of late additions to myths.

Medusa was one of three Gorgon "sisters." Traditionally, Gorgons were said to be immortal, god-like, basically unkillable by humans. So how was Perseus able to slay Medusa? Well, in later Grecian myths, it turned out she was the only one who wasn't immortal. And who's to say the story behind her mortality wasn't something along the lines of Ovid's poem, only not yet written down or in writings lost to us.

It's a strange thing about myths - they're always being "rewritten."
Sure, but when people see the statue, what are they going to recognise? They'll probably understand the cultural reference, and recognise as Medusa and Perseus, in an inversion of the usual story, rather than simply as a naked woman with snakes for hair carrying a sword and a man's severed head, and they'll probably also read her nudity and hairlessness as, at least in part, of the idiom of classical and neo-classical representations of women.

They know that Medusa was a figure in classical mythology, with snakes for hair, and if you looked at her directly you turned into stone, and a hero killed her by looking at her reflection while he fought her.

But are they expected to have any deeper knowledge of the story than that in order to understand the work?
 
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Sure, but when people see the statue, what are they going to recognise? They'll probably understand the cultural reference, and recognise as Medusa and Perseus, in an inversion of the usual story, rather than simply as a naked woman with snakes for hair carrying a sword and a man's severed head, and they'll probably also read her nudity and hairlessness as, at least in part, of the idiom of classical and neo-classical representations of women.

They know that Medusa was a figure in classical mythology, with snakes for hair, and if you looked at her directly you turned into stone, and a hero killed her by looking at her reflection while he fought her.

But are they expected to have any deeper knowledge of the story than that in order to understand the work?
Would they have such a deeper knowledge with some sort of statue representing Persephone, Philomela, Lucrece, the Sabine or the Trojan women (yes even Cassandra)?

It's a statue meant to make a political statement, or provoke reactions. Or maybe both. And I'm sure it was in part chosen for a certain shock value. I think you're asking way to much if you're expecting a whole lot of people to have even a fleeting twinge of recognition to the mythological elements connected to it.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Would they have such a deeper knowledge with some sort of statue representing Persephone, Philomela, Lucrece, the Sabine or the Trojan women (yes even Cassandra)?

It's a statue meant to make a political statement, or provoke reactions. Or maybe both. And I'm sure it was in part chosen for a certain shock value. I think you're asking way to much if you're expecting a whole lot of people to have even a fleeting twinge of recognition to the mythological elements connected to it.
If they don't recognise the myth, though, what are they supposed to make of the snakes in her hair?

To my mind, the story of Perseus and the Medusa is one of those cultural references that most people in the US and Europe, at least, will get, to the extent they know who a woman with snakes for hair is, and what she can do, just as people know that Achilles was a hero with a dodgy heel (bone spurs?) and they know what the Trojan Horse was.

So yes, I expect they'll know it's a statue of Medusa and that it's an inversion of the normal statue of Perseus carrying her severed head, but that's all I expect they'll know.

I expect that's probably more than people know about the other mythological figures I mentioned, but I wouldn't have chosen them for a statue protesting sexual violence against women, either. I mentioned them simply to make the point that, if you're dead set on choosing a figure from classical Greek and Roman mythology who is a survivor of sexual violence to use to make a point with a statue outside a courthouse (which I wouldn't, but if my choice were restricted to a classical theme), then Medusa is by no means the obvious subject.

If it were me, I would have asked artists to provide proposals for an appropriate sculpture, and then commissioned something.
 

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This statue seems to have succeeded better in making its point:

 
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