7 women 7 sins
August 6, 2015 -
Opening Reception August 6, 7-9 PM
performance Holy Matrimony Cake by Genevieve White
Curated by Nadja Verena Marcin
Artists: Janine Antoni, Emma Sulkovicz, Yvonne Roeb, Sylvie Macias Diaz, Raquel Schwartz, Kathryn Garcia, Genevieve White
Envy: Janine Antoni (USA)
Anger: Emma Sulkovicz (USA)
Pride: Yvonne Roeb (Germany)
Sloth: Sylvie Macias Diaz (Belgium & Spain)
Gluttony: Raquel Schwartz (Bolivia)
Lust: Kathryn Garcia (USA)
Greed: Genevieve White (Canada)
7 women 7 sins is an exhibition about women and their sins. The chosen artists actively take on the role of ‘Adam and Eve’, the sinners. Their selected or newly produced work of art speaks to the idea of transgression as a productive force for spiritual progress. Instead of fear and shame, which connects to the rebellious, the show enhances these ‘intellectual’ sinners as prophets of a future in which so-called provocative behavior is admissible for all saints.
What does it mean to be Woman?
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, women have been reminded since ancient times that they were the sex of Eve, who through her initiation of Original Sin was the reason for humanity’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and the source of all sin. This first transgression was said to be the start of all sin, including the 7 deadly sins— pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth/acedia—which are thought to be the origin of all others that we continue to commit. Tendency towards sin became an inherent part of the definition of femaleness along with the inferiority of the female body—allegedly made from the rib of the male body—which was defined in opposition to the superior male body and intellect.
By the Middle Ages, this inferiority and tendency towards sin became enshrined in medical thought. According to the medieval understanding of the body, to be female was to be defined by colder and wetter humors in contrast to the hot and dry humors of men—a biological “fact” which was used to justify characterizing women as less intelligent, less creative, and more prone to sin. As science grew more advanced, this idea was replaced with more sophisticated arguments. Among these was the idea that intelligence was based on craniocapacity and that because the average female skull was smaller (and the brain smaller), women were less intelligent than men. This idea flourished within the pseudosciences of craniometry and physiognomy until the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Whereas, in the 19th century, what it meant to be a woman still seemed to be clearly defined by the limits of birth, in the 20th century the question of what it means to be a woman became increasingly blurry. With the rise of modern Feminism (which has sought to define women as equals to men intellectually, and morally); Gender Performativity Theory (which has sought to define “femaleness a socially inscribed set of behaviors); and sexual reassignment surgery (which has made it possible to change biological sex), the definition of femaleness has become an open ended question.
What does it mean to be a woman in the 21st century? Ideas about what it means to be women have become increasingly blurry and complicated. What are we to do with the frontier findings of neuroscience which define men and women’s brains as different, and the brains of gay and transgendered people as transcending the neurotypical traits of their biological sex? What is the difference between femaleness and femininity? Is it necessary to define womanhood at all? This exhibition seeks to explore these questions through the work of contemporary artists who identify as female.
History of the 7 Deadly Sins:
The special importance of these sins has their origin in the 4th century writings of Evagrius Ponticus, which were later codified in mainstream doctrine by Pope Gregory I in 590, and repeated centuries later by Dante (1265-1321) and Chaucer 1343-1400. They became a popular themes for European artists in the 14th century and have been the subject of major works by artists ranging from the painter Bosch to the tapestry designer Pieter Coeke van Aelst. The 7 deadly sins, more properly called the 7 cardinal sins were each represented by a different animal: toad = avarice; snake = envy; lion = wrath; snail = sloth; pig = gluttony; goat = lust; peacock = pride. However, aside from the sexual temptation associated with lust, the history of their depiction has not emphasized women, and was in fact more likely to feature more male than female characters.
Text by Amy Chang, Art Historian, NY
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Contact: Nadja Verena Marcin, 646.924.9656, firstname.lastname@example.org
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