Spring Break’s 2019 theme, ” FACT and FICTION” was a Godsend opportunity for a feminist. The Untitled Space’s Gallery Director, Indira Cesarine seized the occasion to curate “Eden,” a group showcase of works by 20 artists including Rebecca Leveille, Sarah Maple, and Cesarine’s very own photographic portfolio. Strength is in numbers. Individually, the artists express variant experiences of the female existence; collectively, they deny the validity of the Adam, Eve and the Garden of Eden story, a chronicle said to fault women for the origin of sin.
An installation of the Garden of God displayed in the center of the booth. Dracaena plants and palms gathered around an apple tree, a manifestation of the Tree of Forbidden Fruit, that which Eve ate from in the haste of temptation from the slimiest animal in the kingdom. On the final day of the art fair, dancer Katherine Crockett and Andrew Grey shared an art performance of the temptation scene dressed in body paintwork by Trina Merry.
The surrounding artwork rejects this story of the Temptation of Eve. Projections of female empowerment characterizes Rebecca Leveille’s, “Escaped from Eden,” a painting of a nude Superwoman who conquered the punishment sentenced in the Garden – pain subservience, and shame — Eve, victoriously carries a man’s naked body over her shoulder and in strength clenches a defeated serpent in the other hand. With confidence, she propels her body into the future, where women around the world are demanding equality after divulging stories of males imposing dominance. With solidarity and victory, she proclaims, “Me Too.”
Quieter triumphs of empowerment reflect in Indira Cesarine’s photography. Her pictures share the relationship between an bountiful emerald green Earth and the purity of Eve, a nude female of fair complexion, and amber hair. Among the Earth she wildly expresses herself, and in other moments confides in Mother Nature, the “life giving source.” Grounding foundation from the Earth, the woman is independent of companionship, yet filled with autonomy. Through the character of Eve, Leveille and Cesarine identify self-supporting women in the absence of a male person and therefore reject the Biblical conclusion that women exist subservient to men.
Through a painted artwork piece of Adam and Eve in the Garden, Sarah Maple turns the orthodox image into collage work, declaring the story as “Fake News.” Ambient works distinguish women as unrestricted creations, who employs her free will to satisfy her needs. Anne Barlinckhoff’s “Nine” photographs a woman approaching a flower with sensual intimacy and in Tina Maria Elena’s “Make Love Watercolor No 147,” paints a man and woman committing the works of the flesh.
Sexual expression is not merely a linear path to finding female authority, but furthermore carries a history on the topic of the Garden of Eden. Its influence holds an integral part in exploring the conversation of fact or fiction. Curator of the exhibition, Indira Cesarine explains, ” One could say the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is the root of misogyny in patriarchal societies, and has resulted in women being subjected to discrimination and “justified” inequality for thousands of years. Equally the sexual liberation, and beauty of the Garden of Eden has been romanticized throughout the canon of art history. I felt it was time to explore The Garden of Eden in context of feminist art today, including the stereotypes, symbolism, and sexuality of Eden, and liberate Eve from being a woman condemned. ”
Together: exploration and critique breeds salvation. Through dialogue, we become self-aware of beliefs and stories that have defined the female experiences throughout history. But change is a force to be reckoned. As Jasmine Murrell’s sculpture of a fist emerging from destroyed creation, “The Beginning and End,” assures that despite previous defeat there is still a fight within.