Before she was a hero, she was a monstrous villain who was decapitated by the legendary Perseus, but in recent years, people are seeing this a little different; maybe Perseus was the villain.
In a more favorable turn of the page for modern audiences, would it not have been better if Perseus had been the one whose head was removed in a melee of self-defense?
That’s what a new seven-foot statue in Collect Pond Park, “Medusa With the Head of Perseus,” facing the New York County Criminal Courthouse on Centre Street means to the activist group MWTH Project who commissioned the bronze sculpture by Argentine- Italian artist Luciano Garbati.
The context for Medusa’s taking the head of Perseus in Greek mythology has shifted over the years, especially as the controversy surrounding the appointment of Brett Kavanagh as associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, explained Bek Andersen founder of the MWTH Project (pronounces “myth”).
“In 2018, around the time of the Kavanagh hearings, this image went viral in certain circles, I came across it and arranged to bring the version that existed at the time to New York from Buenos Ares,” Andersen said. “[The location] was chosen to be across from the courthouse before the Weinstein trial was even happening, but what I think that does is show the ongoing relevance of the work. We’ve received thousands of emails from women thanking us and Luciano for making the work and sharing it.”
Funding through a private patron of the arts, a reproduction of Garbati’s original piece made in 2008 was placed on the east side of the park through the city Department of Parks and Recreation’s Art in the Parks program.
“I would have never been able to imagine at the time that 12 years later I would be standing here to formally present the bronze version,” Garbati said. “When I created the sculpture, it has had a life of its own since being shared on social media in 2018, the sculpture resonated with people causing them to create new meanings for the work and sparking emotions, thoughts and conversations.”
Garbati’s work is the direct counterpart of Benvenuto Cellini’s “Perseus with the Head of Medusa” (1545-1554), which still sits in the Piazza Della Signora in Florence, Italy.