Pandora’s Box offers a new twist on the myth of Pandora. It is no longer about what is hidden inside of the box, never to be revealed, but what is metaphorically reflected in it of the outside. Ten international female artists are represented in this exhibition: Laylah Ali, Ghada Amer, Shary Boyle, Amy Cutler, Chitra Ganesh, Wangechi Mutu, Annie Pootoogook, Leesa Streifler, Kara Walker and Su-en Wong.
Inside Pandora’s Box viewers will encounter a phantasmagoria of myths, folktales, stereotypes and ambiguity. The artists challenge, appropriate and critique these androcentric myths and fairytales so as to make them a more accurate mirror of female experience in new socio-historical contexts.
Pandora was the first woman in Greek mythology and was responsible for unleashing the world’s evil by opening the box. There is a paradox in Pandora’s story: she is deemed as beautiful and innocent at the same time as being evil. In the context of this exhibition, Pandora is not a demonised figure, but like the artwork, comes to us bearing gifts. The myth of Pandora and the opening of the box is a hopeful return of the repressed feminine form. A radical transformation is taking place regarding previously entrenched assumptions about gender, the body, sexuality and spirituality.
The artists share their diverse lives, liminal desires, personal fictions and autobiographies, multiple cultural identities, race, and psychological manifestations, through various journeys. The artwork seamlessly blends the carnivalesque and grotesque, surrealism and dreams, emotions and feminist concerns. We are invited to reflect on larger human issues such as birth, death, parenthood, relationships, and rites of passage through an engagement with otherworldly creatures and everyday environments. The artists are adding poignant, independent voices to the dialogue of what it means to be female in our modern complex world.
Pandora’s Box is a delectable mix of painting, ink on paper, collage, comics, stitched embroidery and acrylic on canvas, coloured pencil and watercolour, and more. These works are violent, shocking, surprising, decadent and seductive.
This exhibition presents a rare and special opportunity to explore some of the most witty, candid and powerful work created by women in recent years. Many of the artists in this exhibition are at the forefront as they are receiving tremendous critical attention and acclaim around the world.
This exhibition is organized and toured by Dunlop Art Gallery. A full-colour, 60 page catalogue with an essay by the curator and a special guest introduction by Joan Borsa, Associate Professor and Head, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Saskatchewan, is available in conjunction with the exhibition.
Image: Shary Boyle, Untitled (Bandages), 2004. Courtesy of Jessica Bradley ART + PROJECTS, Toronto.