This piece is in reference to a painting by the artist, Artemesia Gentileschi, which depicts the bible story of Judith slaying Holofernes. Part of what makes this painting so striking is the fact that Gentileschi herself was a survivor of rape. Unlike most paintings depicting this scene, Judith is fierce and determined, and she puts some muscle into the decapitation of Holofernes. In my interpretation of this story, I omit the image of Holofernes and instead, Judith and her maid confront the viewer. The death of Holofernes gives the viewer a sense of relief—there’s no more tension, the bad guy got his. In his absence, however, Judith asks the viewer to consider their own relationship with ideas of consent. This acknowledges that anyone can experience or commit acts of sexual assault.
Christine Bruening’s work focuses on how the western canon influences our contemporary, visual dialogue and how that thread of conversation, in turn, informs our values and belief systems. Her investigations look into the different methods that society has used art to understand the ways in which we view ourselves and others. She looks at how art has been historically used to answer those questions and how those answers may have shaped our perspectives on our individual realities, and who has been left out of this storytelling.