I started drawing Minotaurs as a child1. I have always been fascinated by the minotaur tragic story and always been upset that they were killed in the labyrinth. Now, my next show, has a female minotaur as a leader. Guided by a kite that she holds with a golden threat, the she-minotaur sculpture gets out of the labyrinth on her own terms and well alive. Behind her, all these other almost human-like sculpture follow.
The figure of the Minotaur has been used by many artists, from Picasso who loved to draw himself as a big minotaur having sex with young girls (???), to Borges, who in his Asterion’s House, make the minotaur the narrator of his own solitude and cruelty, living in a gigantic house with no exit.
The minotaur, in the Greek myth, was the son of a queen and a bull, a “monster” half bull half man. Seen as a monster, he was imprisoned in a labyrinth and fed with young girls and boys. One day the hero Teseo, armed with a sword and a golden thread, enters the labyrinth and kills him. Teseo was able to find the way out thanks to the thread that his lover Ariadne gave him.
On my drawings the Minotaur is always female. There are so many reasons why I love drawing female minotaurs. Not only do the minotaur and me share the same legal name (that almost nobody knows), but more importantly, I feel that my art practice deals with a lot of powerful, mythical creatures oppressed by society in a labyrinth of rules and punishments. In the reading i make of the myth, the female minotaur is not a victim of the labyrinth, she’s the one who frees herself and guides others. She questions the Greek myth and the role “monsterity” and “norm” plays in it: Who are monsters? What makes this creature so scary that has to be imprisoned? What is this prison?
For me, female minotaur is a figure of strength and subversion that acknowledges the pre-christian power of this animal (Thank you SAA for this conversation) and the power of female fighters who revolt against normativity systems. The she-minotaur is a metaphor of this not-fitting-in, of this process of “monsterity”, of being a “monster” or becoming a “monster”, of this becoming a threat to the “norm” This is what the minotaur represents in the myth: a threat to the well-behaved and normative society, a product of desire that put reason and norms in danger. This is why the minotaur has to be put in a labyrinth, an almost-prison with an impossible exit. Why the well-behaved society chooses to put the minotaur in a labyrinth instead of putting them in a jail with no exit or simply killing them, it is a very interesting question that may bring us to contemporary issues of politically-correctness, pretensions of justice etc.
The labyrinth may be read in many different ways, it can be a social labyrinth or it can be a personal labyrinth. In fact, we may be the minotaur or the minotaur may be a part of us that we are repressing out of fear of not fitting in, of not being good enough, etc. The readings of the female minotaur are as many as we want. In any case, she is the her own savior, her own freer. There’s no place for Teseos nor heroes who kill “monsters” The she-minotaur is the one who finds the exit of the labyrinth, following the golden thread. Maybe Ariadne is her lover or the name of her kite or her heart or her instinct. Whatever it is, she’s the one who keeps on looking until she finds the impossible exit.
Showing as part of Mayworks Festival 2014
May 1st to June 3rd
Opening May 7th, 7pm
594b Dundas Street West
I was a child and copying every intriguing drawing or painting I found, so Picasso’s minotaurs were a great training on how to use charcoal and draw big muscle guys. Of course as a Spanish child the figure of the bull brings a lot of contradictory feelings: on one side there is the mystery and the knowing of the mythical power of the animal, on another, there are the disgusting cruelties against these animals during bullfighting (known in Spain as the National Party) and the use that the Spanish national identity makers have done of the bull. The minotaur, being half bull half person, bring up many of these issues, but also questions about “monsterity”, metaphores and labyrinths.