Philosophers? Authors? Human Rights Activists? “Naked and preferably from behind”. After 200 years Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) finally got honoured with a statue. Good news, hey? Hell no.
by laStaempfli (Phd in History, Author of the book „Trumpism“ 2018) The English writer, advocate of women rights „VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN“ 1792 is commemorated by Maggi Hambling (1945) , who really should know better. The sculpure shows a naked, silvery woman figure standing out from an undefined something. The media comments and the statue are a big slap in the face to women. The young, naked woman is not „controversial“, it is just stupid. It is neither artistic nor Mary Wollstonecraft, it is, what we would call „Blitzart“TM of its worst kind. „Blitzart“TM is the kind of art that behaves like art but destroys in reality all modern critics of and with art. Mary Wollestonecraft was over centuries annihilated by misogyny and now this: „A visual conversation with the obstacles Wollstonecraft overcame“ the artists mumbles, echt jetzt? Sorry the German outcry, but the idea to portray women as young naked girls, has nothing to do with feminism or equal rights but with the internalised male gaze, male history and male interpretation of art.
In 2008 France celebrated the 100 years anniversary of the great political thinker Simone de Beauvoir „ One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman“ with a same misplaced iconography. Simone de Beauvoir was depicted from behind and naked.
Let’ s sit back and invent another monument, let’s say, of Nelson Mandela. The statue, would, as my Co-Podcaster #DiePodcastin, Isabel Rohner, pointed out, be showing his nudity, penis included, in an iconography of a young black man with shredded abs and raising out of chains. The outcry would have been fast, furious and totally to the point. Never, in any world, this statue would have been discussed as „controversial“ nor the artist would have got away with the idiotic notion that the statue is not a likeness of but a tribute to Nelson Mandela.
Monuments are a male domains: They are made by men for men and through men they shall dominate us forever. Most monuments have seen their times and could easily be removed without anyone ever even noticing it. New monuments are desparately needed: For women, PoCs, humans. To have yet another of millions of iconographies of naked young women, is so depressing that the idea of a monument for any old and great feminist should maybe be given up all together.
Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett is explicit in The Guardian on November 10th 2020 with her outcry: „Would a man be ‚honoured’ with his schlong out?“
Gillian Wearing, the great artist, erected a wonderful monument to Millicent Fawcett, another feminist icon, who now stands in parliament square with the great banner: „Courage calls to Courage Everywhere“ – wonderful. But the staute in tribute to Mary Wollstonecraft is dead, is intellectually hurting, an offence and repetition of „If this is a naked women, it mus be art“-syndrom that the Gorilla Girls already pointed out in the 1980’s.