The gaze

Assemblage, mixed media, 2019

“The roots of the tradition of widow’s veiling lay in the veils of nuns, which were emblematic of modesty and chastity.  The mourning veil was often described as a means of shielding the mourner, and hiding her grief, though mourning dress was also a form of public display, viewed by some women as an outer expression of inner feelings. The veil was at times described as a protection against unwanted social interactions during a period of grief.  Widows were often represented in popular culture according to certain stereotypes – as women vulnerable and worthy of sympathy, or alternatively, women who were alluring to men, and whose relative freedom presented a potential disruption to the prevailing social order.”  – Janet Regan co-curator of the exhibition Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, at The Met.

This exhibition came to my attention when researching into the traditions of mourning. It had been held some years earlier, to be precise from October 21st 2014 to February 1st 2015. It was during this very period that I myself had been widowed. This piece is a personal response to the glamourization and sexualization of the widow in popular culture in contrast to an aspect of widowhood that remains somewhat hidden and to a certain extent taboo; sexuality and desire.

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