Image: Aura Satz, Joan the Woman – with Voice (detail), Duratrans print lightbox with sound, 2013
Alongside our current exhibition Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s: Works From the Verbund Collection, the new issue of Loose Associations takes feminism as its subject. In this short text and single accompanying image – which is available along with other writing and images in the publication via our shop – Aura Satz responds to the question: How do you visualise a woman in the 21st century?
Aura Satz, Joan the Woman – with Voice, Duratrans print lightbox with sound, 2013
Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake, accused of hearing voices, of having a voice, of stirring up the voices of her countrymen. Cecile B. deMille’s silent feature Joan the Woman (1916), ironically starring opera singer Geraldine Farrar, is mostly monochrome except for the culminating flame sequence in which Joan of Arc is burned for heresy. Joan’s hands are only just discernible from the dense abstraction of smoke, flame, and colour. She is a voice that does not fit her cross-dressing body, a voice straining to be heard, to materialise in the realm of the audible and visible. And yet she glows through the smoke, resilient, a voice that has become louder over time. She has been reclaimed as a martyr, canonised as a saint, declared a national symbol, an icon of feminism, a voice so powerful yet protean it has come to stand for contradictory ideologies – both fascists and the resistance.
In the future our voices will rise and burn, shape-shift, remember and dismember.
Aura Satz is a Spanish artist based in London.
With thanks to Club des Femmes for providing the question, ‘How do you visualise a 21st Century Woman?’ from an ongoing project, which also formed the basis of a studio activity during the exhibition, Feminist Avant-Garde of the 70s.