open studio: selfie on the raft of medusa / by kelly heaton

Selfie on the Raft of Medusa, 2015. Digital photo collage. Kelly Heaton

I made this photo-collage, "Selfie on the Raft of Medusa," 2015, after Theodore Gericault's epic painting, "The Raft of the Medusa," 1818-1819. Gericault portrays the hastily constructed life raft of the Medusa, a French naval frigate that wrecked in 1816 killing most of her crew and creating an uproar over the perceived incompetence of the French monarchy. It's one of the greatest paintings in history. 

Joseph Campbell attributes the myth of Medusa to "an actual historic rupture, a sort of sociological trauma, which has been registered in this myth, much as what Freud terms the latent content of a neurosis is registered in the manifest content of a dream: registered yet hidden, registered in the unconscious yet unknown or misconstrued by the conscious mind."

Medusa: rage of the feminine principle. She speaks to me right now. She speaks of frustration with human self-absorption, abuse of Mother Earth, dependence on fossil fuels and electricity, and hubris.

Jack London quotes Benjamin de Casseres in 1914: "The profoundest instinct in man is to war against the truth; that is, against the Real. He shuns facts from his infancy. His life is a perpetual evasion. Miracle, chimera and to-morrow keep him alive. He lives on fiction and myth. It is the Lie that sets him free."