Honouring Opposite but Entangled Forces of Feminism through Art

Article excerpt

"AN artist has to be ravished by the archetypal unconscious or there is no art." Marion Woodman, Conscious Femininity.

There's the compliant woman. The one who, as a child, was careful when learning to write to keep the letters between the lines, and who upholds her faith, dutifully baking the bread for Friday night's prayers. The archetypal Eve. Then there's her shadow aspect, the subversive Lilith, who questions, rages and rebels.

Both these female energies are honoured in Cathy Abraham's exhibition Undying Entanglement. The title came gradually and reflects Cathy's love for the resonance of words and her fascination with science.

The word "undying" is more powerful than "living". For the living will ultimately die. But the undying are eternal. The word is like a semantic antidote to death.

Although there are psychological echoes, Cathy uses entanglement in the quantum physics context.

It's a state which occurs when subatomic particles become entangled on interacting with each other.

Curiously, "entanglement seems to occur instantly, even if the particles are on opposite ends of the universe".

The exhibition features installations, videos, paintings and cut-out word panels. Undying Entanglement was born from profound personal losses, material and illusory, and the artist's deep connection with the unwanted and discarded. These losses include the death of a beloved dynamic socialite mother and a complex captain-of-industry father, and the demolition of a family home which became like a living entity.

Mary Oliver writes in her poem, The Journey, that there comes a time when you realise that you have to save the only life you can; your own.

It is through making artworks that become votives to loss and honouring of a prior existence, that Cathy saves her own life. She does this by doing the only thing she believes she can, which is to make art.

Like Oliver who writes in the tradition of Shelley, Keats, Hopkins, Yeats and Whitman, there is something of the ecstatic approach in her art making.

Her influences include the quiet work of the contemplative painter and Taoist Agnes Martin and the polish painter Roman Opalka who obsessively painted and incanted numbers in an attempt to deal with "the problem (is) that we are, and are about not to be. …