'Venerated and feared. Feminine power in art and beliefs' at CaixaForum Barcelona

The exhibition highlights the many faces of female power

Zanele Muholi
'Venerated and feared. Feminine power in art and beliefs' at CaixaForum Barcelona
bonart barcelona - 02/04/24

Until June 9, CaixaForum Barcelona hosts Venerades i temudes, an exhibition dedicated to female power throughout history, displaying more than 150 sculptures, sacred objects and works of art from the British Museum, together with creations by contemporary artists. Revered and feared. Feminine power in art and beliefs, curated by Belinda Crerar and Rosa Martínez, invites us to reflect on the various representations of female power and its evolution throughout the ages.

The exhibited works explore the various facets of feminine power through carvings, amulets, sculptures, paintings and masks. These representations, which include deities, devils, monsters and witches, have fascinated, terrified and fueled hope in the cultures that revered them. The exhibition includes the wide spectrum of these representations throughout history, from goddesses to saints, and examines how central they have been in various cultures.

The expository account, meticulously constructed by Crerar and Martínez, focuses on female spiritual power, detaching itself from political power. The associated symbology is often intertwined with feminine beauty, although gender is sometimes blurred, featuring hermaphrodites with notable attributes or figures without defined gender.

Crerar and Martínez highlight how these images speak of the human desire for security, orientation, natural cycles of fertility and the continuity of life. They personify desires and passions, chaos and harmony. The exhibition shows how female representations can be marginal or dark, central to society, indicate independence or female leadership, and at the same time move between being revered and feared. Revered and feared offers us a visual and conceptual journey that illuminates the richness and complexity of female power, from veneration to fear, distilling meaning into each representation.


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