The First Dissent
At a critical moment when the boundaries of gender, power, and art are being intensely scrutinized and reconfigured, Peruvian artist Mynerva's latest exhibition, titled "The Original Riot," explicitly challenges the foundational narratives of Abrahamic religions, such as the creation of the world and Adam and Eve, a traditionally heterosexual relationship.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is a seventy-foot-long painting depicting a unique alliance between Eve and Lilith. This alliance reconfigures the traditional antagonism or marginalization between the two figures, challenging the traditional power dynamics of religious narratives. Rather than strictly adhering to sacred texts, Mynerva presents Eve giving her "lowest rib" to Lilith, a symbolic act that represents an alliance against patriarchy. Such a representation acts as a visual barricade, advocating a "first necessary rebellion" against the control of "always male higher powers" over bodies, especially feminized bodies.
To add a level of personal and physical involvement to her work, Mynerva displays her own surgically removed rib as a sculptural element in the exhibition. This decision transcends symbolism and places the message in both a literal and personal realm, blurring the lines between art and activism. It also adds a new dimension of engagement to the art: physical authenticity.
The monumentality of the painting is not accidental; it is a strategic act of reclaiming public space, challenging the art industry's trend toward privatization and individualized consumption. This choice aligns Mynerva's work with a broader narrative that seeks to question and dismantle the patriarchal and capitalist structures that define our world.
In addition, this exhibition, which marks Mynerva's U.S. museum debut, provides a significant cultural commentary. It not only challenges patriarchal norms and narratives, but also opens up broader conversations about these issues by introducing a transgressive and transformative work to a new audience.
Influenced by a Catholic upbringing, Mynerva incorporates religious elements into her work, not to comfort or preach, but to provoke and question. Her haunting recollections of God-related nightmares offer insight into her complex relationship with religious authority and guilt. These religious elements and her critique of spiritual power structures seem to deeply inform her art, reflecting her personal and social experiences.
Mynerva's work represents a space for what has been called "degenerate gender," an exploration of the boundaries of gender and sexuality that challenges traditional roles and norms. This multidimensional approach to her art intertwines with intersectional themes ranging from gender and religious critique to anti-patriarchal sentiments, creating a rich and provocative tapestry that defies easy categorization.
"The Original Riot" is not just an art exhibition; it is a manifesto for social change, a call for collective resistance, and a war cry for feminized and queer bodies to unite against the constraints of traditional narratives and norms. Mynerva uses her art to challenge our preconceived notions of gender, power, and rebellion, creating a dialogue that goes beyond mere visual stimulation. It is work that invites us to rethink foundational narratives and our own participation in social structures, while offering an alternative vision for ways of thinking and being.
WYNNIE MYNERVA: The Original Riot
Curator: Bernardo Mosqueira
NEW MUSEUM 235 BOWERY NEW YORK NY 10002 USA