written by Eddie Arroyo
Many years ago, I was flipping through the pages of a book on Baroque paintings. After coming off a Renaissance stint the desire to focus on an approach which would resonate. It was then that I gave serious credence to Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes. There had been 114 paintings and sculptures describing the biblical tale of Judith. A widow who used her beauty to seduce Hologernes the Assyrian General into her tent; intoxicating him into unconsciousness subsequently decapitating him. This was done to prevent him from destroying her home in the city of Bethulia. Caravaggio’s version of this story is the most successful because it conveys the graphic nature of it quite accurately. For me it was not the horrific expression of Hologernes that was curious but the determination Judith has to carry out this deed. The addition of the elderly servant displaying a level of encouragement feels more of a generational statement as to the influence required to accomplish such an intense act.
This tone was presented in the jolly performance of The Murderous Bluebeard and her Tropi-Goth Masquerade Ball by Southernmost Situations. Inspired by Truman Capote’s famous Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel in 1966 it tells the tale of a fem fatal romancing men from their mortality. In five acts audience’s bare witness to a sexually desirable woman being courted and in sequence after sequence as she proceeds to stab and sever would be lovers. The piece is done with delightful melodies throughout – save near the end when an air horn is blown and the song ends abruptly along with the lives of the men. At a home in Buena Vista East, it offered a wonderful setting as the masqueraded audience was moved from one stage to another and provided with flavorful libations. I indulged in a citrusy gin concoction and found it very effective in assisting with the experience. Allowing me (between intermissions) to pondering the conceptual motivation for such a narrative. It is rare to be exposed to such vicious acts by a feminine hand. Such cruel pleasures are normally reserved and celebrated by men in the form of righteous action. Of course this is the point. In that a woman can and will do these things in the guise of some abstract logic which is essentially no different from the other gender.
In 2006, the Girl’s Club was established in Fort Lauderdale to provide exhibitions, educational programing, publications, and events that focuses on contemporary art by women. It’s a vernacular which has presented women in the context of growth with group shows motivated by themes of female empowerment. This has taken form in exploring themes of social equality, sexuality, and economics in an aesthetical frame. However, I have yet to observe work focusing on the notion of misandry in reference to exploring these ideas.
This is understandable given a society which finds an aggressive woman very threatening.
I am still amused by the concentrated dislike of Hillary Clinton and this emotional reaction moves across party lines, ideology, and even gender. Many years ago I was struck by certain women’s animosity with Clinton where I felt that there would be a level of solidarity. It almost seems personal not so much of who she is but what she represents. It’s also a strange position to ask these question given my sexual position. After all, I am a man asking a woman’s organization – why not celebrate their aggressive tendencies? It even sounds patronizing to even propose such a recommendation. But more so rather insipid given the fact that encouraging such behavior would diminish my social position on some level. Still, the enigma of how this will evolve in our dialog is too tempting to ignore.