ALTADENA, California — Midway by way of “What if the Matriarchy Was Right here All Alongside?,” artist Akina Cox’s brief story in regards to the Amazons struggling an assault by a tribe of males, a personality named Melanippe gathers the group.
“The tribe to the north of us is pleasant,” she tells her folks. “They’ve many males who can be concerned with a wedding alliance with these of you of age. They admire our combating spirit and will give every girl a horse, and we might be welcome into their households.”
In Cox’s telling, that is an uncommon supply, as a lot of the close by teams hated the concept of girls studying to journey horses, studying martial arts, and usually working fiercely and independently of the close by patriarchies. Debate ensues.
Horses determine prominently in Cox’s drawings, which grace the partitions of the Altadena Library’s exhibition, What if the Matriarchy Was Right here All Alongside?, curated by Jacqueline Falcone of Mattress & Breakfast, an impartial curatorial observe centered on uncommon artwork areas like bedrooms or, on this case, a library.
One shaggy horse dons a golden crown, and one other incubates a human youngster. Each carry a daisy-like flower, an emblem of Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of each love and conflict. Within the Bible, the exhibition notes, Ishtar is represented as a snake meant to encourage disgust and worry. However in lots of pagan spiritualities, it typically symbolizes new life, most famously depicted within the ouroboros, a picture of a snake consuming its tail.
Cox’s ouroboros encircles a daisy, backgrounded by brown earth. Per the exhibition description, the artist grew up in a cult, the place all that she was “taught to be afraid of had been truly issues and individuals who had been good for her.”
Outdoors the library, Ali Prosch’s outsized “Friendship Bracelets for Bushes” grasp from the property’s oldest tree (predating the library itself, whose historical past dates again to 1926). The favored craft began as a protest image after which prolonged to a common exercise between pals and family members, particularly kids. Prosch labored along with her daughter, Lucy, to create the 2 huge bracelets, considered one of which carries the phrase “Take Care” in large beads and crimson and black rope.
If Prosch presents the tenderness of motherly love, the present’s third piece, Najja Moon’s “Your Momma’s Voice within the Again of Your Head” (2022) reveals its tensions. An digital work put in inside gradient dichromic plexiglass, it gives a single pair of headphones to pay attention to precise maternal scoldings from Moon’s neighborhood in Miami with their moms in overlapping English, Spanish, and Creole: “Get your ass up and go.” “Concentrate on the facility of the penis.” “No empieces” (Don’t begin with me). “Callate” (Be quiet).
Initially put in as a public art work on the Bass Museum of Artwork in 2021, “Your Momma’s Voice” was vandalized after which destroyed; the work on show within the Altadena Library is comprised of its remnants. “Miami is seen as a spot aside from the remainder of Florida,” Moon famous in response to the destruction. “People consider we don’t have ‘these issues’ right here. We will’t get to the higher model of what’s subsequent, if we attempt to consider that’s true.”
On the coronary heart of the present is the concept matriarchy by no means actually died however quite has reworked. “Maybe the the Amazon ladies took on a brand new type of existence,” affords Falcone’s curatorial assertion. “Maybe their legacy lives on each by way of their genes and folklore, but in addition each time anybody has come collectively, from abolitionists, to suffragists, to ladies’s social golf equipment and quilting bees.”
That legacy could also be most outstanding within the Amazonian identify. Right this moment’s wave of unions, together with these on the famed expertise firm, is pushed by Black and brown ladies, and the river from which the corporate derives its identify was designated for the fierce indigenous ladies who fought again towards Spanish conquistadors.
This makes me assume again to the characters in Cox’s story — what would they consider right now’s society? If horses as soon as represented freedom, in addition they signify conquest. At one necessary pivot level within the story, Daphne, an Amazonian girl contemplating the supply to marry into one other tribe, thinks up one other answer. “Do we actually want the boys?” she asks. “Let’s simply steal the remainder of their horses!”
Whereas ladies warriors from the east have lengthy been thought of legendary, new scholarship reveals simply how actual they had been, within the type of Scythian ladies driving horses throughout the Eurasian steppe. Over time, we would come to acknowledge that the parable isn’t the concept of the Amazons, however the concept they might by no means exist.
What if the Matriarchy Was Right here All Alongside? continues on the Altadena Library (600 E. Mariposa St. Altadena, Calif.) by way of December 17. The exhibition was curated by Jacqueline Falcone.