At Humboldt-Universität’s TA T-exhibition space, international archaeologists and designers use 3D-scanning and printing technology in order to re-examine one of the most well-known objects from Greek Bronze Age archaeology.
The results of this week-long experimental workshop will be presented to the public on March 10, 2018.
The so-called Snake Goddess figurines from Knossos, Crete, rank among the most spectacular archaeological finds from the Aegean Bronze Age. Almost unknown to the general public is the history of their reconstruction. They are a part of a series of objects that come from a find called the Temple Repositories. These were two large closed stone containers found in the ground at the Palace of Knossos. More than 3,500 years ago, the faience figurines and other objects had been ritually fragmented and purposefully buried in these containers. Some parts of the objects including the head of the smaller ‘Goddess’ were deliberately left out. The archaeologists supplemented the missing parts and reconstructed the figurines as whole bodies. Their Goddesses were highly speculative characters. Especially the characteristic ‘modern’ face and cat-topped hat of the smaller Goddess and her arm holding a snake were products of the archaeologists’ imagination. This embodiment ultimately supported the modern belief in a Minoan matriarchal civilization where Snake Goddess were worshipped.
The research by exhibition curator Anna Simandiraki-Grimshaw and Fay Stevens in the archives of the Ashmolean Museum has brought to light the fine line between archaeological reconstruction and (male) imagination as the original photographic prints showed drawn ‘additions’ such as an apparent highlighting or even enlargement of the Snake Goddess breasts.
However, the Snake Goddesses were soon emancipated from the male interpretation by feminists looking for role models from ancient matriarchal societies. Two of the most striking examples of a post-modern appropriation of the Snake Goddesses were realised by the artists Judy Chicago (b. 1939) and Marina Abramovic (b. 1946). In her monumental feminist installation The Dinner Party (1974–1979), Judy Chicago memorialised important women in history including the Cretan Snake Goddess. In her autobiographical performances Marina Abramovic often embodied various mythical women associated with snakes and she eventually performed as the Snake Goddess (The Biography Remix, 2005).
Based on the ambivalent history of the Snake Goddesses’ reconstruction, replication and appropriation, the workshop aims at exploring a contemporary perspective. First, museum replicas of the Goddesses will be 3D-scanned. An interdisciplinary team of the exhibition curators and 3D-artists will then attempt a deconstruction, i.e. by virtual re-fragmentation of the figurines. From these fragments that represent both original finds and reconstructed body parts, a contemporary interpretation is attempted. Will it become a Goddess or another female character? What will she look like? What could be her role in discourses on gender and epistemology?
Gefördert im Programm „Fellowship Internationales Museum” der Kulturstiftung des Bundes