Recasting: The Museum of Classical Archaeology

I’ve written at length about my love for the Museum of Classical Archaeology in Cambridge. Recently, I was able to travel back up to this gem of a museum to check out their new exhibition: Recasting. Space-wise, the museum presents a challenge: it is one room, how can you mount an exhibition? The solution is rather elegant, as the works, the responses are presented as a series of interventions alongside the more permanent works.

This creates a fascinating juxtaposition. The museum on a normal day is wondrously photogenic (it really is an instagrammer’s dream-come-true). Look at it.

Several sculptures from the Museum of Classical Archaeology

Several sculptures from the Museum of Classical Archaeology

And this is without trying.

What Recasting manages to do, is play with this. The austere beauty of the sculptures, the representations of a physical ideal, lacking in any colour, is thrown into sharp relief. This is most apparent when we see an image of Artemis remixed, recast and remade as popular songstress Rihanna in the piece Rihanna.

REILLY's Rihanna

REILLY’s Rihanna

 

An intriguing mash up to be sure, but from the stories of the goddess and the public persona of Rhianna we know that both of these women are not to be fucked with.

According to the text, the artist, REILLY, recast the goddess as the singer because he wanted to underline the goddess’ sexuality, her status as the classic (classical?) femme fatale. She may have preferred hunting to love-making, but her favourite prey was always men.

Diana of Versailles - the goddess of the hunt in action.

Diana of Versailles – the goddess of the hunt in action. The inspiration for REILLY’s Rihanna

There is another work by REILLY in Recasting, Michael. Named for the intimitable Michael Jackson, the piece invokes the King of Pop’s well-documented Peter Pan Syndrome. He uses an image of the adolescent Jackson, terrible teenage moustache included, and layers it over the sculpted face of an idealised youth, one that will never, ever grow up. The effect is both provocative and poignant.

REILLY's Michael

REILLY’s Michael

REILLY’s work may have caught my eye the most, his is the lead image for Recasting, but I also enjoyed Paul Kindersley’s work. The placement was playful, see the particularly great example of that below, and it confronted what is so often ignored when looking at, talking about Classical Art – the nudity. We giggle at the boobs, the bums and the willies but then we pretend to be grown ups again, and pretend they aren’t there (unless you’re a fan of Museum Bums, that is).

A Centaur and two pieces of work by Paul Kindersley

A Centaur and two pieces of work by Paul Kindersley

Not so here. You *have* to look at them. To discuss the work, the art *is* to talk about the boobs, the bums and especially the willies. And there are a lot of willies to talk about.

Recasting is on until 15th October, both the museum and the exhibition are completely FREE.

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