Medusa and Perseus
During the last few months I have been horrified and shocked by the amount of rape and violence that newspapers have been constantly publishing. Group violence perpetrated by teenagers on their companions, domestic violence, sale of minors on the prostitution market by the same relatives. All this is made even more unbearable by statements by politicians or engaged politicians who seem to have emerged from a patriarchal and violent culture that we all hoped was dead and buried. But that is clearly not the case.
I was very struck by an article that quoted, about the relationships between men and women, the sculpture of Medusa by Luciano Garbati. Beyond the article that proposed a “revenge” of the Gorgon holding the head of his enemy Perseus, I looked carefully at the photo of the statue and I was impressed.
Graceful depicts a beautiful woman with snake hair that adorn her face as an elegant hairstyle. The expression of the face is of deep sadness as to say that there is nothing beautiful in his victory. Perhaps the sculptor meant that there is nothing heroic about surviving for a mea bites your life. Either Perseus survives or Medusa survives.
The detail that struck me most, however, is the fate that despite being completely naked the genitals are only mentioned, almost like those of Barbie (another theme very popular in recent months).
I wondered if this fact of not defining and not exposing the female genitalia is an intuition of the sculptor or his difficulty. Maybe it means that if the only way to survive a man is to kill him, you lose your sexuality. And it would also be fair to say so. But I still doubt that it could be a shortage.
I am not an art expert, but following this thought I went to look at some sculptures and (I hope to be wrong) it seemed to me that the female genitalia are practically never exposed. They are never visible through veils, leaves or gently resting hands. On the contrary, male genitalia is shown with a certain amount of detail. Why? Is there a problem with female genitalia? What do they have that’s strange or disturbing? Medically and anatomically, I would say absolutely nothing. But it would probably be a very superficial view. Is it just “fear of castration” or is there something more? Is there a possibility, represented by the female genitalia, that must be broken with violence? I don’t have an answer yet.
I think, however, that the fact that in sculpture there is a difficulty to represent a woman for what is entirely and without veils can have a meaning. On the contrary, in painting there are many examples of unscrupulous artists who have done wonderful works without creating the slightest problem. I think of Modigliani, Picasso and many others. Will it be because painting is two-dimensional, it is still “controllable” while sculpture being three-dimensional disturbs more?
Maybe I’m saying a lot of crap and some artist who knows more than I do will answer me.
But one thought remains: the woman seen whole for what she is creates problems… or at least it seems so. Then you make her become modest, angelic, wife, mother and Angel of the hearth. Good girl. And if she doesn’t fit into this role, you’re allowed to rape and rape as Meloni’s boyfriend claims.
But sometimes someone sees us for who we are. My favorite Shakespeare sonnet is the number 130 he wrote to tease the poets of the sweet new style:
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go:
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.