Resurrecting Matilda a collaborative photo project by
Mary Anna Pomonis and Allison Stewart
Inspired by the stories left out of state adopted textbook curriculum. The Resurrecting Matilda, series focuses on the historical erasure of women from curriculum in textbooks. The phenomenon was named for the women’s-rights activist Matilda Joslyn Gage, “The Matilda Effect” and refers to the erasure of female scientists who have been left out of textbooks and their accomplishments accredited to their male peers. The photographs explore the timeline of female historical erasures from the Sumerian poet Enheduanna, the world’s first recorded author, to to Laskarina Bouboulina, the first female Navy admiral in history.
The female artist participants were asked to identify a heroine they could embody in a portrait re-enactment photo. A special focus was placed on women the artists felt were left out of the historical metanarrative. The artists collaborated to create the costumes and poses exhibited in the series. The artists thus far have chosen widely from a diversity of cultures.
Participating Female Artists:
Carole Caroompas as Laskarina Boubolina, (1770-1825) naval commander and heroine of the Greek War of Independence. Laskarina was the first female Navy admiral in history, her ship the Agammemnon, was the largest rebel warship in the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman empire.
Rachel Finkelstein as Lilith from Jewish folklore, Adam’s first wife. Lilith was made from the same clay as Adam, unlike Eve, his second wife, who was made from Adam’s rib. According to 13th-century writings of Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob ha-Cohen, Lilith left Adam after he refused to acknowledge her equality, to make her subservient to him.
Christine Dianne Guiyangco, as Reyna Sentenciada of the Flores de Mayo parade. Flores de Mayo is a festival held in the Phillipines. Reyna Sentenciada, Queen Convicted, is a character paraded in the streets, her hands bound by a rope. She stands for the persecuted Christians of ancient Rome and is often accompanied by two men depicted as Roman soldiers.
Mary Anna Pomonis as Enheduanna the daughter of King Sargon of Akkad (2285-2250 BCE). Enheduanna was the high priestess of Inanna, goddess of the morning star. Enheduanna was the first author of a signed text in any language. Often thought of as the Shakespeare of the ancient world Enheduanna’s verse style pre-dated the verse form of other ancient texts such as the Old Testament of the Bible by hundreds of years.
Marjan Vayghan as Parvin Etesami the popular Persian poet. Her first poems were published in 1921 when Parvin was 14 years old. Her work follows classical Persian style in form. Her chosen name Parvin roughly translates as “Butterfly”.
Kari Vargas as Aethelflaed, oldest daughter of Alfred the Great, know as Lady of the Mercians or the Lady of Mercy who ruled the Anglo-Saxon empire from (911-918 AD). During her rule she led troops successfully against the Vikings. Her military successes directly led to kingship of her brother Edward the Elder.
Michiko Yao as Himiko the shaman queen of ancient Japan, (238 AD). She came to power as a peacemaker ending an 80 year war. Her reign was peaceful and she was known for her use of magic and her primarily female attendants, she never married.
About the artist collaborators:
Mary Anna Pomonis and Allison Stewart have worked together as teaching artists and are a part of the female artist collective the Association of Hysteric Curators. The Resurrecting Matilda project was born out of a fascination with text book photography. The topic was explored by Stewart at length in her series of photos, "American Athem". In 2016 Pomonis began performing as the first ancient poet, Enheduanna after discovering that Enheduanna was left out of the Ancient History textbook her daughter brought home in the sixth grade. The overlap between their interests and jobs led Pomonis and Stewart to collaborate on the project inviting working artists to pose for the photos that ought to be included in textbooks representing erased women.
“In that single gigantic instant I saw millions of acts both delightful and awful; not one of them occupied the same point in space, without overlapping or transparency. What my eyes beheld was simultaneous, but what I shall now write down will be successive, because language is successive. Nonetheless, I'll try to recollect what I can.”
Excerpted from The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges
The Aleph, a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, takes place in an apartment basement. Within that basement is a God’s eye; an unimaginable image. In one moment the narrator sees everything, everywhere superimposed on a reflective diamond surface. The Voyage Autour de ma Chambre, by Xavier Maistre, is about a mental vacation the narrator embarks upon in an ordinary room. Everything familiar in that space becomes foreign and fascinating under scrutiny. I am fascinated by how both of these stories parallel the lives of a solitary artist locked in the studio, simulating actual experiences through paint.
I create painted mirror portals that, like these stories, transgress linear time. The mirrored surfaces place the viewer within the space of making, creating a space of conceptual collaboration between the artist and the spectator. The canvases in the installation are scattered on the ground. From the floor, the canvases operate as furniture in the room, displacing their functionality as illusionistic spaces. The canvases glitter and flash. They project out and are caught up within the reflective surface of the wall. Also reflected in the gridded mirrors is the interaction between the viewer and the paintings on the floor. Each individual mirror in the installation is partially covered in paint, which blocks, then reveals the viewer’s body, thus mimicking the deeper ruminations artists project through their own bodies of work.
||***Everything Must Go*****
Paingings as Photographs
I shop at garage sales looking for items that connect me to the seller. I then bring home the items to use as stencils for airbrush paintings. The acquired objects are rendered destroyed through the process of painting, transformed by their engagement with paint into illusive objects that have glowing edges. I am inspired by Man Ray who elevated photography to the level of painting with the invention of the ray-o-graph. Currently I make paintings from the lowest possible of photographic tools, the airbrush. Rather than using the airbrush to touch up blemishes, I am using it to document an aesthetic that is based on the recession in both the economy and in painting. My work questions if there is an aura left in our collective cast-offs and in painting itself.
Mary Anna Pomonis is an artist and a writer living in Los Angeles. She has written for many publications such as Art US, Artillery, Artlurker, Artweek, X-tra,THE and WhiteHot. Additionally her curatorial projects and essays have been featured at commercial and college art galleries such as The Whittier College Greenleaf Gallery, Peter Miller Gallery and Circus Gallery. Pomonis is also well know as an exhibiting artist who has shown at galleries and institutions including, the Torrance Art Museum LACMA, Post, Circus, the Krannert Art Museum and I space.