Ovid's Medusa, 2013
This body of work deconstructs the account of Medusa provided in Ovid’s 'Metamorphoses', reinterpreting this 16th Century narrative. Visual references to art history, Christianity and contemporary political events infuse these fantastic illustrations, questioning the patriarchal bias and assumption present within the original text.
Ovid’s Medusa #5 is the title image of the series. It portrays the final scene in a reconstructed narrative about the downtrodden Medusa. In the first stage of the story, Neptune’s Conquest, Medusa has been sexually assaulted by Neptune and punished by Minerva through transformation into a snake haired monster. In the second stage, Neptune’s Estrangement, Medusa has broken free and is dreaming of a safer life far away. In the third stage, Ovid’s Medusa, Medusa is pursuing her dream and journeying to a new land. However, instead of finding peace and welcome she is confronted at Christmas Island by a new sexual aggressor.
Sailing on a vessel that is part Christian ark and part raft – a nod to Gericault – the tale has an ambiguous conclusion. In Ovid’s Medusa #33, a stop start animation, Medusa circles Christmas Island. At first Dirty Santa seems to celebrate and take advantage of her presence, however he becomes unsure, and temporarily reconsiders his approach. Ovid’s Medusa #35 explores these ideas in a verbal artist statement, performed by the current Immigration Minister’s namesake, Scott Morrison.
In Ovid’s Medusa #14 Medusa has moved on from her role as victim. Imbued with anger and power she defies traditional feminine values placed on placid beauty and engages with contemporary celebrations of female strength.
Ovid’s Medusa #34 reveals some of the processes involved in making the work. And reminding the viewer that this is a story told to assert a specific agenda and perspective. Just like any other image.
Special thanks to: Sarah Oxenham, Luke Kidd, Bertrand Branchu, Mandy Ridley, Nick Ridley, Sophie Richards, Madeleine Keinonen, Kylie Spear, Phoebe McDonald, Tim Aistrope and Anthony Ricketts.