January 11, 2024
From goddesses and deities to demons and witches, women’s spirituality has always been fraught and the instigator of both awe-inspiring respect and immense anxieties. An exhibition on view now at Caixa Forum in Madrid brings 5,000 years of these complicated feelings together through 166 historical and contemporary artworks.
A collaboration between La Caixa Foundation and the British Museum, Revered and Feared: Feminine Power in Art and Belief considers how spirituality has informed notions of gender since time immemorial. The exhibition is global in scale, featuring ancient Greek monsters like Medusa, the Hindu goddess Kali, and depictions of the Christian icon, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Alongside these historical statutes and objects are works from contemporary artists like Zanele Muholi, Marina Abramović, Ana Mendieta, and Niki de Saint Phalle that contextualize these legacies within today’s cultural and political landscape.
Given the long history of fear over women’s power and independence, the imagery in the exhibition “speak(s) of the human desire to feel safe and find direction, of the natural cycles of fertility and the continuity of life,” a statement says. “They personify desire and passion, chaos and harmony. They are associated with witchcraft and evil spells. They represent female independence and are either central to society or on the fringes of it.”
Revered and Feared is on view through January 14. (via artnet)
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