Estudio sobre Minerva (Study of Minerva)
The women in the photographs of Kinshasa are adults with a hard lifetime behind them. Their country has been, for 25 years, the battleground of the deadliest war in modern African history. In this context sexual abuses were largely used as weapon of war and, still today, gender-based violence continue to be extremely worrying all over the country. Nevertheless, those are Congolese women who despite armed conflicts, suffering, humiliation and poverty are strong enough to look to the future and face the challenge of learning and teaching. All of them, except for the three teachers, are illiterate.
The project consists of 17 pictures that recall 17 different paintings of Artemisia Gentilleschi. The compositions and poses have been freely interpreted. The lighting, contrary to the chiaroscuro caravaggiesco, is the cloudy and whitish light from Kinshasa in the rainy season. Thus, in a corner of the courtyard of the nun’s house, where the reading and writing lessons take place, Artemisia’s allegories and heroines appear as by magic, recreating the famous compositions of Judith cutting off the head of Holofernes, Susana and the elders, her allegories or her self-portraits.
The photographs were taken in a single session on the 28th of September 2011. The photo session was carried out with no extra means, just using the clothing and furniture available in the place at that moment. It lasted two hours, from 07:00 to 09:00 in the morning, as this is the time when the women take classes before starting their long hard day. It is thanks to the beauty, dignity and innate ability to perform of the women and men who participated in the photo shoot that this art project exists.