Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Who is telling the tale?

The Book of Judith is full of the male gaze, and filtered through what we need women to be: loyal, courageous, beautiful, chaste. We only know Judith's story at all because the distaff chroniclers preserved it with the other apocrypha; plus I think the women just weren't going to let this one go.

Judith, beautiful and chaste, defeats the enemy through her courage and cunning, outwitting and outfighting every man in the book, friend and foe. She does it while maintaining her key aspect of chastity, but I think Judith would have fucked Holofernes if she needed to get the job done, or just if he appealed to her. But she just got him drunk instead, and, as I have her maid say, "he never laid a hand on her even though you could tell he wanted to if you know what I mean."

In a way, the Judith story is a parable for childbirth, and the artistic treatments support this: the painters always go straight to the action and ignore the aftermath, the bloody bag that the maid carries the head away in.

Here I've drawn the weave of the basket, using three versions of the story (repeated as needed to fill the space): Judith's, straight from the Apocrypha. The maid's, written in the vernacular from the point of view of the person dragged along because she can't say no (the maid's story is in the comments); and the highly edited tale as seen from the point of view of Nebudchadnezer, Holofernes, the Judean counselors, and the captains of Holofernes' camp, preserving the most "manly" parts. Judith's and the maid's create the weave of the bloody bag, but Holofernes' blustering boasts are the blood dripping through the warp.

The Book of Judith: the maid's story

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Our life for yours

Joshua was able to defeat Jericho because of Rahab. But there are no heroes here. Joshua kills everyone in the city except Rahab and her family, who choose betrayal over death. Rahab is a prostitute, so you have to wonder what her life was that bargaining her life for the sure death of her people was a choice she felt she could make.

The Book of Rahab-Joshua's wall

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Say their names

Made in response to a call for entries for works about Chicago. Not sure if this is exactly what they were looking for, but I figure someone else can do the pretty picture of the boats in Burnham Harbor. (although I have a couple of those too)

Rekia Boyd Bettie Jones Quintonio LeGrier Paul O’Neal Laquan McDonald Kajuan Raye Cedrick Chatman LaTanya Haggerty Chiquita Ford Brian Fields

"Our country's national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob. It represents the cool, calculating deliberation of intelligent people. No emergency called for lynch law. It asserted its sway in defiance of law and in favor of anarchy. First, lynching is color-line murder. Second, crimes against women is the excuse, not the cause. Third, it is a national crime and requires a national remedy. This was wholly political, its purpose being to suppress the colored vote by intimidation and murder. Thousands of assassins banded together to spread a reign of terror. The purpose was accomplished, and the black vote was supressed." -- Ida B. Wells, excerpted from speeches on lynching