[May 10 2016]
Created in response to the political uncertainty in Greece, designer Klaus Jürgen Schmidt asked fellow creatives, including Andre Walker and Martine Rose, to develop a collection of works around inspired by the contradictory symbolism of the goddess Athena.
Schmidt remarks that In Athena “wants to provoke a more realistic idea of womanity, of what a goddess is and why ultimately – the word is a misnomer. If the goddess was a male-invented, fetishised idea of what a woman is supposed to be, IN ATHENA smashes that statue as it rebirths everywoman. To celebrate this, I wanted the spirit of the document to be one of everyness, which as a word doesn’t exist but we understand that its meaning must be one of inclusivity and fairness.
The idea of a goddess is terrifying as it is fleeting: it is a simplistic and dangerous objectification invented by men, where women by comparison are perpetually inferior to their all-powerful ideal image. These were representations of women in sanctuary – we have no evidence of civic or domestic sculpture representing women in isolation behind her husband’s closed doors. It was behind these doors that her aspirations came to an end. There is connection between this impossible representation and the distorted image of women in Greek Tragedy. Patronising and misogynist, Greek Tragedy presents women that are either hysterical, or sinful, or crazy, or murderous, or all at once. Watch, as righteous and intelligent Antigone is buried alive by her uncle in an act of patriarchy.
Like in a modern gay sauna mirroring the ancient Platonic Greek symposium, there is exclusion for women from participation in opinion, pleasure and invention. Women in classical antiquity were absent from the definition of what their divine image is. Female statues in antiquity were documents declaring the expected notions of the race of women, and are more like aesthetic idealisations rather than factual depictions of women at life. This seems archaic but it directly mirrors modernity in many ways. Now still, our imagination fails us by proxy. The Goddess as she appears in layered references in fashion and pop culture is crushingly off the mark. When we envision a divine Whitney Houston, Marilyn Monroe or Maria Callas as evening-gowned and in poise, we also know this image does not reflect their realities, yet it serves our consciousness and still conjures an accepted fact. The question of whether divinity is linked to oppression or marginalisation becomes apparent. Divine is a state of mind associated with the world of drag and female impersonation or appropriation, it loses that meaning for many who observe it and more so for those who inhabit that state. Human imaging and visual female reputation in particular need a revisit – and considering that many of their invented origins are Athenian, there is no better place to start than here – now – IN ATHENA.”
In Athena will be available to stream online from May 12th.
Photo Panos Davios