Amazonomaquia

Organised by

Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte
Museo Arqueológico Nacional

Opening hours

Tuesday-Saturday: 9:30 – 20:00
Sundays and public holidays: 9:30 – 15:00

 

 

The metopes on the west side of the Parthenon in Athens depict the Greek victories over the Amazon tribes. This Amazonomachy represents the clash of two opposing forces, order versus chaos, which for the Greeks boiled down to the confrontation between civilisation and barbarity, and even between East and West.

One of the figures that best personified this opposition was the Amazon woman. Amazons subverted the order of Greek culture, challenging traditional values based on the superiority of the Hellenic system and the male gender. In order to preserve that superiority, the real existence of Scythian female warriors was confined to the universe of myth and the legend of the Amazons was born. In depriving them of historical recognition, the Greeks denied their legitimacy and subjected them to a sexist reading of history, promoting a bias that has endured to the present day.

In Clara Carvajal’s project Amazonomachy, curated by Carmen Fernández Ortiz, the artist attempted to redefine the legend of the Amazons in their true historical context.
Based on discoveries made in recent years, which confirm the existence of warrior women on the Caucasian steppes of southern Russia from the sixth century BC, Carvajal’s work proposes a literal interpretation of the Amazonomachy, restoring those female warriors to their rightful place in a glorious, epic past.

The exhibition featured 29 brand-new works by Carvajal: two series of photographs of the metopes on the west side of the Athenian Parthenon, altered with texts and images to make them historically accurate, and a video about the new Amazons and the persistence of territories off-limits to women.

The video footage was accompanied by excerpts from Penthesilea (1808), a play about the Queen of the Amazons by German Romantic author Heinrich von Kleist (1777–1811). To complete this dialogue with history, the museum contributed two Greek vases with depictions of Amazons.