Objection to Vatican image for women
In the Irish Times recently, Soline Humbert, a spiritual guide and advocate for women’s ordination, asked “How has a headless, truncated, nude, female bondage image recently acquired pride of place on the website of a Vatican all-male body?”
The image was chosen by the pontifical council for culture, headed by Cardinal Ravasi.
The council regularly holds a plenary assembly in Rome and the theme this year was “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference”. To introduce that document on women’s cultures the council chose to illustrate it with one very graphic image. The image is a frontal view of Venus Restored, a plaster cast of an amputated nude female torso with the exposed breasts, belly and pubic area tightly bound with rope. There is no head/face, no arms and no legs.
Venus Restored (1936) is the work of a male artist, Man Ray (1890-1976). Like other male artists linked to the Dada and Surrealist movements, Man Ray objectified women and saw them as subordinate: there was a strong connection between artistic achievement and sexual prowess, specifically power over women. Here Soline Humbert talks with Miriam Gormally about her objections to the image.