The antiquities exhibition, Decadence and Domesticity, which I have curated for the Arts West Gallery (located on the ground floor of the Arts West Building at the University of Melbourne) opened today. Decadence and Domesticity features Graeco-Roman antiquities, rare prints and books and is concerned with the theme of the Domus (house) and its iconography. The exhibition consists of three main sub-themes: Domestic Cult, Women’s Beautifying Procedures, and Feasting. It is made up of seven displays: the first and second cases concern religion and focus on the deities Cybele and Silvanus, the third case displays objects related to women and cosmetics, the fourth case features Roman terra sigillata pottery, the fifth case Syracusan coins, and the sixth case displays Greek and Roman terracotta lamps. On the wall opposite is a frieze consisting of Pompeiian frescoes and a TV screen featuring the feast scene from Fellini’s 1969 film the Satyricon. Decadence and Domesticity is one of three exhibitions within the Arts West Gallery; the other two being Transforming Space by Simon Young and his company Lithodomos, which is about 3D Reconstructions of ancient sites and immersive virtual reality experiences; and (re-)Producing Power by Annelies Van de Ven which uses plaster casts and copies of Mesopotamian antiquities in order to explore concepts of power expressed in material culture and the acquisition and control of knowledge. Together, these three exhibitions are part of The Arts of Engagement exhibition which opened today, 20 August and runs until 23 October 2017.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Sunday, January 8, 2017
I have a new article out in the Journal of Prehistoric Religion, one of my favorite journals. It's called "Virtual Reality: Tree Cult and Epiphanic Ritual in Aegean Glyptic Iconography."
Here's the abstract: For the first half of the twentieth century and even up until quite recently Minoan religion has been interpreted through an evolutionist lens. Glyptic iconography depicting ritual activity in conjunction with trees and stones has been considered evidence for the evolutionary trajectory of Minoan religion from an earlier “primitive” phase, characterised by aniconism, to a more sophisticated stage signified by anthropomorphism. In contrast, this article proposes that Minoan religion was simultaneously physiomorphic, theriomorphic and anthropomorphic. Through examination of the Minoan imagery of epiphany set within natural landscapes, in conjunction with comparative ethnographic analysis of cult activity and religious symbolism from the Levant and Egypt, it is determined that Minoan religion was a “nature” religion that was experienced through the mediation of elite human performance.
Friday, December 16, 2016
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
You think sexting is totally 21st century? Here's an example from 1828. It's a miniature painting by Sarah Goodridge, of her boobs, which she sent to the newly widowed statesman, Daniel Webster. The painting is tiny, measuring 6.7cm x 8cm, pretty much approximating the screen on a mobile phone. This, however, was painted on ivory and later set in a case. I think it's quite enchanting. It's very cute; to the uninitiated viewer the boobs would be anonymous, while the recipient of the portrait was aware of the owner's identity - it's really a kind of flashing. Beauty Revealed was painted when Sarah was about 40, and some critics have speculated that she enhanced her the appearance of her breasts so that they looked younger. (Is there nothing new under the sun? Imagine that, a woman enhancing her natural beauty!) Sarah must have been a rather forward woman for 1828 - and I applaud a woman of any era who takes seduction into her own hands. Men still want to see boob shots, according to Cosmopolitan magazine, but as a painting Beauty Revealed seems rather more precious and less disposable than the proliferation of photographic nudes all over the internet today.