In her series Agiografie, the Italian artist Anita Scianò constructs a narrative of the martyrdom of ten women sacrificed for their liberal opinions and independent thought.
Embellished with bits of lace, flower petals, dabs of paint, and scraps of fabric, these curious and precious Polaroids celebrate the “spiritual strength of a few selected female figures,” explains the artist.
First comes Agnes: her long dark hair covers her bare breast, and a halo of a twisted pink cord encircles her head. A few drops of red paint on her throat tell us she was beheaded for converting to Christianity. Next, there is Agatha: a young girl from a noble family who rejected the advances of a powerful prefect. As punishment, her breasts were cut off. Finally, we have Lucy, whose eyes were gouged out for refusing a pre-arranged marriage.
Anita Scianò lends each saint a face and a soul. She gives them attributes symbolizing their life story: here, a piece of lace to signal nobility; there a column to evoke the streets of ancient Rome.
However, beyond a historic interest in the lives of these martyred saints, the artist pays a moving tribute to the suffering of women. The poetic and ephemeral framing of her Polaroids reminds us of the fragility of these lives, so often forgotten. The artist concludes by asking: “Is it ever possible, by recalling the dark, gruesome details of their martyrdom and by perpetuating their memory, to save today’s martyrs from a similar fate?”
By Coline Olsina
This series will soon be exhibited at the Circulation(s) festival in Paris from March 14 to May 10, 2020.