Wednesday, 5 September 2007
Sketch for ’Twelve hanging maidens’
Since last autumn and following on from my ‘Five perfect maidens’ I’ve been thinking and feeling my way towards a larger project titled ’Twelve hanging maidens’ and it seems to me now that with my tied shoes I’m going in the right direction. The twelve hanging maidens are of course from The Odyssee. To set the scene: Odysseus has slaughtered the 100 suitors who hoped to take his place as king of Ithaca at Penelope’s side and instructs his son Telemachus to kill the twelve maids/servants/ slaves as he feels that they have betrayed him by shamelessly sleeping with the suitors. I am not even getting into questions like ‘did they have a choice, being female slaves?’, and ‘is the term shame ever applied in relation to sexual exploits by male figures?’ but going straight to the fact that apart from one (Melantho) they are nameless and nobody mourns them and the image of them hanging side by side with their feet twitching in the air until they’d breathed their last breath has long haunted me.
Anyway. Here is another pair which I ‘finished’ just yesterday. It’s taken me a good two weeks to get this one done, partly because the tieing needs more energy (holding the shoes firmly, the continuous tieing motion with taut thread, etc.) than say crocheting which I can do lying down, but also because I’ve been trying to tackle more practical things, i.e. how how to join the shoes together more securely and how to suspend them. I am quite happy with this version, although it’s still a sketch, there’s more to work out and I have yet to decide on the colour of the thread. The first pair showcased is still my favourite, but it's good to keep playing as something new emerges with each different pair: here I’ve let myself be led by the red-fleshy tone of the cotton which seemed to demand slight digressions into more curved contours.
(When I first read the Greek myths as a teenager there weren’t any alternative versions, but thanks to feminism we now have authors reading/re-imagining/rewriting some of the female figures, breathing new life into them by allowing them a complexity that is sadly lacking in Homer’s version. Christa Wolf’s Kassandra is one of my all-time favourite books, and now there is Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad.)
PS. Following Catherine Scriven's example (thank you, Catherine!) I've entered my Four furry maidens in the Saatchi-showdown. You can view this work and vote for it or check out other artists here.
Everybody can enter, so go on.