Cara Benedetto is an artist and writer. She received an M.F.A. from Columbia University in 2009. Her work has been exhibited at Metro Pictures, New York; MOCA Cleveland; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; and is represented by Chapter NY, and Night Gallery, Los Angeles. In 2014, Benedetto was a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, and a recipient of a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant. She is the author of two romance novels, The Coming of Age and Burning Blue, and the editor of Contemporary Print Handbook, published with Halmos. Benedetto is Director of Graduate Studies and Assistant Professor in Print Media at Virginia Commonwealth University.Project description:
Starry Messenger is a series of lithographs in three parts; Views from an early grave; Fangirl desire; and Angel of history. The work demands a complex voice over image. I aim to pluralize viewpoints through the printed multiple, and reroute internalizations of misogyny via the act of writing, drawing, and collaboration to make space for new imagined wants.
Views from an early grave is a set of 4 lithographs based on four impressions from the book Siderius Nuncius (or ‘Starry Messenger’ in English) by Galileo Galilei. The prints depict images of the moon with text.
Galileo’s 1610 publication further solidified the Copernican theory, positioning the Sun at the center of the Universe, as well as illustrated via the telescope that the Milky Way was made of individual stars and that the moon was not a perfect circle nor flat, containing several mountains. Stone lithography is similar to the moon because with a naked eye one cannot see the hills and valleys that make up the surface of a stone. As Flat Earthers gain popularity in the US the moon increasingly becomes a contested site in popular culture. By exhibiting Galileo’s multiple viewpoints of the moon plurality combats reductionism.
The text is written about and by the character of the dead girl from the viewpoint of a grave. Various genres have romanticized the character of the dead girl. Alice Bolin writes in DEAD GIRLS Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, “Everyone loves the Dead Girl,” but, of course, “that’s why we love her: because she’s dead, and her death is the catalyst for the fun of sleuthing.”
The Dead Girl brings the critical viewers attention to the problems of representation by highlighting what is missing. She’s dead, missing, or gone - not there enough. The question is one of ethics and representation. The voice in the prints ask if it is possible to bring her back into the frame?
The Dead Girl is not a blank slate. She is typically white, alone, and upper-middle class. I agree with Bolin that the Dead Girl becomes a space for projections, but she also represents something far more sinister as a kind of scapegoat. She allows for a cathartic voyeurism that aims to dismiss misogyny and ignore violence against women of color.
Fangirl desire is a lithograph depicting a drawing of Mariah Carey framed by a photograph of the stage set for the ‘2019 Mariah Carey Christmas Tour’. Mariah Carey is a symbol of joy, pleasure, and femme bodied identity. As an artist she has controlled her own image through three decades of US culture obsessed with celebrities, consumerism, and phallocentric modes of desire. As a devoted fangirl I drew her image to pay homage and respect for her work and intergenerational feminism.
Angel of history is a sculpture and print. A printed cut-out mask of Angelina Jolie emerges from a depiction of the moon. Jolie represents a construction of white feminism, supposed western kindness, and deadly kind of progress.
The title refers to Walter Benjamins text The Angel of History that critiqued western ideals of progress and an inability to learn from the past. Jolie’s face is taken from a google search, cut-out and taped to a mask to point to a highly constructed identity. The mask emerges from an alien landscape, floating in negative white space.
Cara Benedetto (2020)
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