2022 Undergraduate Research Showcase
 

Title

Medusa with the Head of Perseus

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date

4-22-2022

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Amy Arellano

Abstract

When the #MeToo movement gained viral popularity in 2017, victims of sexual assault were put under a magnifying glass; forced to answer for their trauma rather than be offered the support they needed. This trial of survivors forced us to reconsider how society views women and the autonomy they have over their bodies and whether or not we value the safety and well-being of those women. In response, artist Luciano Garbati created the statue “Medusa with the Head of Perseus”, a jarring reversal of the norms set forth in our symbolic world. The statue presents an alternative narrative to the myth of Medusa, in which Medusa is assaulted by Poseidon, which angers Athena, who sends her nephew, Perseus to slay Medusa, calling her a “beast”. The statue, which depicts Medusa holding the decapitated head of Perseus, posits a new reality, one where Medusa successfully defeated Perseus. The status posits a research question for us: How do contemporary portrayals of Greek mythology recontextualize depictions of the female body? We answered this question by examining Sarah Bracke, Lith Lefranc, and Anais Van Ertvelde’s research paper Unruly Bodies, which asks us to consider how bodies create new spaces and force us to consider them in our world. While we often are ignorant towards these “unruly” bodies which don’t conform to accepted conduct, bodies create significant change in how our world functions, and our perception of them can change if we take off the rose-colored glasses. Through this research, we discovered that while this conclusion can be true, the presented statute fails to properly recognize communities lumped into the category of “unruly”. Failing to consider these communities diminishes the overall message of the statue, regardless of its intention.

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