To celebrate women power and to honour the #MeToo movement, a seven-foot statue of Medusa holding the head of a Greek hero will soon stand across from a Manhattan courthouse where Harvey Weinstein was convicted.
To enter the court, convicted and suspected criminals will have to first walk past the looming Medusa statue before or after their trial. They just need to make sure not look into her eyes.
Created by the Argentine-Italian artist Luciano Garbati, the sculpture Medusa With The Head of Perseus, inspired by Benvenuto Cellin’s more traditional take on the legend, “questions the mythic figure’s characterization as a monster, and investigates the woman behind the myth”, according to the project’s website.
“In Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Medusa was a maiden in the temple of Athena, who was stalked and raped by Poseidon. Athena, in a rage, banishes and curses Medusa with a monstrous head of snakes and a gaze which turns men to stone. Medusa is herself blamed and punished for the crime of which she was the victim; she is cast away as a monster and then with the cruel assistance of Athena and Poseidon, eventually is hunted-down and beheaded by the epic hero Perseus, who displays her head as a trophy on his shield.”
The story of Medusa is saddening and empowering at the same time. She was raped, and then was cursed because she dared to entice a god, when she had no such intention. Any man who looked into Medusa’s eyes instantly turned into stone. But the way many people see it is that she returns the unwanted, ugly, predatory male gaze and freezes them in that moment. Forever pausing them in their weakest and most shameful moment. But men didn’t like that, and she was portrayed to be a threat and a monster, while at the same time, several temples worshipped and respected her. The statue of Perseus with the Head of Medusa (1545) by Benevento Cellini, is still a big tourist attraction in Florence. Perseus is seen proudly holding Medusa’s head to the crowd. The thousands of people who go to Florence and look at this statue, can only have one of two varying thoughts. Some may see Perseus as a brave warrior who slayed a scary and dangerous monster. But others just see a representation of an insecure man who felt threatened by a powerful woman.