Mary Beth Edelson

A pioneering feminist, artist and activist, Mary Beth Edelson’s paintings, photomontages and performance works challenge patriarchal structures and record the collective work of women artists.

This work is drawn from a series in which Edelson (born 1933) engages with the figure of the Goddess. Alongside images such as this, where Edelson seems to become an ancient Goddess lost to historical record, she also organised performance rituals to summon the Goddess and painted a series of life-size figures called the Great Goddess Cut-Outs.

Goddess Head/Soft is a grainy black and white photograph depicting the artist’s own naked body in a rocky landscape. She stands with arms outstretched with a large seashell over her head, purposefully covering her identity and preventing the viewer from making eye contact. Throughout art history the female nude is depicted as being vulnerable, passive and an object of the male gaze. In her work, Edelson allows the female to reject the gaze of the viewer.