"The character of Antigone, an enduring symbol of uprising and resistance to the state and society, has shape-shifted from a tragic mythical figure to a contemporary emblem of the risks and consequences of standing up for what you believe in a hostile world." - Kate Durbin
PCMA held a dialogue/workshop event inspired by artist Alexandra Grant's "Antigone 3000" show, hosted by both Grant and fellow super rad artist, Kate Durbin. I recognized Durbin from her amazing work on the Teen Girl Tumblr Aesthetic (which I've referenced heavily in my current writings on the new Sad Grrrl Nation), and Grant from her exciting collab with Clover Canyon. A free afternoon of art, theory, collaborative creation? All inspired by Antigone, the timeless icon of resistance against the state? Yes, plz. And who else to bring with me but my Antigone? Nonee and I were surprised to find we were 2 of 3 people who showed up for the event, but quite pleased to be at a tiny table of such artistically inspiring women. They warmly greeted us, doled out notepads and an array of markers, pens, and crayons, and began an insightful discussion about Antigone: the archetype, the heroin, the martyr, the myth, the icon, the inspiration, the character who has touched so many so powerfully as to be so very alive today, centuries after her 'birth.'
Who are modern-day Antigones? Where is she in space and time? What does she fight for today, for whom does she speak? How are we to be "Antigonous?"
Nonee spoke about her relation to the/her name, and the character of Sophocles' tragedy. Like the original Antigone, Nonee would do anything for her brother and his honor; they have one of the strongest and loving sibling relationships I've ever encountered. I spoke of how Antigone reminded me of Karla Castaneda, the mother who went on a hunger strike this March in front of the Los Angeles Mexican Consulate, to demand a proper investigation into the disappearance of her daughter. The act of honoring your family, in the face of institutionalized oppression, regardless of their actions or public reputation, and even after death, demanding proper burial and respect- these are timeless themes and tales across all cultures. Antigone is everywhere.
We wrote and doodled notes during our brainstorming, which we then used to create a collage of our thoughts, slogans, and inspirations, all the while continuing our discussions of all the aspects of the myth that touch our lives. It was so powerful and enriching, to share the stories of our heroines and to recognize Antigone's strength and resistance in so many of our loved ones. "I think we'll all be in tears by the end of the afternoon," said Alexandra. "Well," replied Kate, "that is her, Antigone IS love."
A highlight of the afternoon was touring the back gallery with Alexandra as she showed us her paintings for the Antigone 3000 show. It was like a dream come true: being lead through a gallery with the artist herself, as she explained the intricate details and methods of the pieces, and recounted stories about how the art came to be. She pointed out the influence of Rorschach test stains (messy but undeniable resistance) against the structured geometry. My favorite paintings had rubbings- "like a tombstone"- of Antigone's famed line "I was born to love, not to hate," which were cut up and pasted in a disarrayed but still legible manner against sharp lines and bold shapes.
Check Alexandra Grant's Artsy page for more about this super rad artist!
"Inspired by Rorschach’s psychological tests, which are designed to reveal the viewer’s subconscious beliefs, Grant sees her paintings as “half-Rorschachs,” or stains. The stain is perhaps a perfect representation for Antigone, this figure who never vanishes from a collective history, who keeps reappearing in different forms, wearing different faces, fighting for different causes.
Antigone is a stain we cannot seem to remove, a stain that appears like all stains, completely inconveniently, serving as a reminder of inconvenient truths — like love. It was Antigone’s claim to Kreon that she “was born to love, not to hate” that incited Grant’sAntigone 3000. It is Antigone’s love that demands she honor her dead; it is love that leads, ultimately, to her death.
When a person is shot in a movie, often there is a moment of total stillness, after which a bloom of red appears on their clothing. Their mouth falls open. Trembling, they touch the red. They are amazed. In that moment, I like to imagine that they are realizing two things simultaneously: that they are alive, oh so alive, more alive than they’ve ever been in their whole dead life. And that, before any of us are able to grasp the significance of that revelation, we die.
What are we born for? Not to hate, but to love." - Kate Durbin on Alexandra Grant's ANTIGONE 3000
It was a touching, lovely afternoon and I'm so grateful to have spent it with rad women of the arts, Antigone in her many forms, and my Antigone, my sister for whom I would raise all hell.