The Nacreous Virgin II and Pandora’s legend

Below a gallery of images from The Nacreous Virgin II – indigo paint on paper, 140cm x 75cm. You can see Nacreous Virgin I and read more on Cyanosis/Indigo bodies on the home page here

In Griselda Pollock’s Encounters In The Virtual Feminist Museum – Time, space and the archive, Griselda discusses the legend of Pandora and Laura Mulvey’s take on this. Here are some extracts relevant to my work. 

‘Laura Mulvey has suggested that the model of Pandora’s curiosity might be useful for women to think about the notion of a desire for knowledge of the feminine, its invisible sexual specificity, its particular array of fantasies about the maternal body, the identificatory body, the body of the feminine as other. She writes:

“Pandora’s gesture of looking into the forbidden space, the literal figuration of curiosity as looking in, becomes a figure for the desire to know rather than the desire to see, an epistemophilia. If the box represents the ‘unspeakable’ of femininity, her curiosity appears as the desire to uncover the secret of the very figuration she represents.

Mulvey examines the Pandora legend, which confirms the myth of the dangerous nature of both feminine interiority and curiosity, while she uses this analysis to propose a revision:

To sum up, there are three ‘cliche’ motifs, elements of myth, that are central to Pandora’s iconography: a) femininity as enigma; b) female curiosity as transgressive and dangerous; c) the spatial and topographical figuration of the female body as an inside and an outside. And I would like to reformulate them, to illuminate the tautology as follows: a) Pandora’s curiosity acts out a transgressive desire to see inside her own surface or exterior, into the inside of the female body metaphorically represented by a box (or in my argument, a floral calix) and its attendant horrors; b) a feminist curiosity transforms the topography of Pandora and her box into a new  pattern or configuration can then be deciphered to reveal the symptoms of the erotic economy of patriarchy; c) feminist curiosity can constitute a political, critical and creative drive. ”  ‘

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

Detail from Nacreous Virgin II - watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

The Nacreous Virgin II – watercolour on paper, indigo paint, 140cm x 75cm

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