After sending the call out for the new Artist Book Collective exhibition, ‘Bound’, I decided to create a new work specifically for the show. I’m becoming increasingly interested in female literary characters, in this instance, Penelope from the Odyssey, with a view to researching contemporary critical sources such as Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Penelopiad’ and Janine Antoni’s ‘Slumber’, as well as the original text.
Odysseus’ absence during and after the Trojan War leads numerous suitors to attempt to woo his wife Penelope, to gain position as head of the kingdom. Penelope devises tricks to delay them, in the hope that her husband will return, one of which includes weaving a burial shroud for her father-in-law, while promising to choose a suitor after she has finished. After 3 years, it is revealed that she has been unravelling the shroud, in an attempt to postpone her decision further.
The use of weaving within the literary context as an analogy for Penelope’s faithfulness, echoes Freudian analysis of women’s creativity as gender specific. However, her cunning in maintaining her autonomy despite unfavourable odds, supports feminist re-workings of Penelope as a woman of immense power, intellect and self-interest. The book will use the weaving metaphor in form and content, in relation to the act of binding, whilst also considering the various subtexts of Penelope’s role in the Odyssey.