In this series we reimagine artworks to reflect the themes of today. Taking art and making it relevant in our current conversations. We call this ‘Rebellion: What We’re Saying Now’.
on each image
to reveal the Renaissance Story
We've chosen 'Jael & Sisera' by Gentileschi, completed in 1620 for a discussion on tolerance.. The original work hangs in the Szepmuveszeti Museum, Budapest, Hungary.
Jael and Sisera are characters from religious text that features a woman luring into her home the general of an army that just defeated her community. Once the general was asleep the woman simply drives a spike through the skill of that whom aggrieved her.
If this were an expression of a personal issue surely the lesson was about tolerating the patriarchy. The signature on the painting, "Artemisia Lomi," indicates that it was likely created when Artemisia was residing in Florence.
This surname highlights her familial relationship with her uncle Aurelio, who had already established a presence in Florence.This differs from Rome where she is thought to have produced this artwork. So even as an accomplished artist, Gentileschi still required some manoeuvring in circles with the help of a male.
That did not mean she voided her voice in her works. Gentileschi used the image of Agostino Tassi, her teacher and her convicted rapist, as the model for Sisera in this painting. Talk about taking your anger out in expression!
Wearing your Wimbledon whites to go play tennis? Or did you get benched because you were cramping too much for activity?
Or how about free-bleeding while running your marathon? What is with the paradox of being dainty flowers that also bleed and play bad-ass sports. We're no match for anyone so we get treated as lesser than?
We've chosen the work 'Mary Magdalene' by Gentileschi c. 1617-20 that now hangs in Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy. It was commissioned by Grand Duchess Maria Maddalena, wife of Cosimo II de Medici. This painting is a combination of the imagery from stories of Mary, Lazarus' sister and Mary Magdalen. The piety and the richness is overlayed in Gentileschi's chosen symbols. We've reimagined that the subject was simply awaiting a fair game of tennis to only have to cancel because their menstruation commenced instead.
We need to discuss how menstruation can have an impact on an athlete's performance and overall well-being, and acknowledging and addressing this can help athletes to better manage their menstrual cycles and maintain optimal physical and mental health. By discussing menstruation openly and honestly, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all athletes.
We need to get loud, like we're cheering on something that matters. Perhaps progress needs more lighter fluid, hey, Wimbledon has changed it's rules after 135 years. Let's strike a match.
How did male gaze go beyond artistic expression and into conversations about our bodies?
How did these conversations become policy?
How did these policies disrupt our choices?
'Susanna and the Elders' completed in 1610 is a work that features a repeat subject for Gentileschi and her contemporaries during this era. A biblical tale of a woman, two elder men, reputation, accusations, false testimony, and above all, modesty. Age old tale.
Instead of lustful peering, we've reimagined the image as that of elders who have chosen to oversee what choice this female makes with regards to her own body and function. A depiction of the world around us as those who do not bleed are constantly making laws without the perspective necessary to make these choices.
When historians took note of her work and recalled her experiences with males while embarking on her career it was stated that her expression in paintings were evident of a survivor of stress and trauma.
How do we regain autonomy in the decisions of menstruation and basic human rights? We can talk, we can shout, we can get angry. We can also take a cue from Gentileschi and use art to present our narratives.
EDITIONS: Rebellion: What We're Saying Now
As the story goes, his wife turned to a pillar of salt so he was left to raise his young daughters. Imagine your father or any male caretakers having to navigate your period when you barely know the basics yourself.
Hormones, mood swings, cravings... these are natural occurrences during menstruation and certainly need to be treated with care and understanding.
We need to have comfortable conversations with all genders about menstruation; not just in physical education/sexual health courses but around the home as well.
The characterizations and misunderstandings of girls and those on their periods could be eliminated by honest discussions without ridicule.
The fear and abjection from males could be replaced with a simple late-night snack sesh in the kitchen with your father preparing you a sundae or perhaps something more savoury... instead of him avoiding you for a few days.
The original work, ‘Lot and His Daughters’, Gentileschi, 1635-38 is exhibited at the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, United States.