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Between Eternal Youth and Transience. Representations of Women in French Cemeteries
Radiating in the full strength and beauty of their youth, female figures have increasingly adorned the graves of wealthy deceased persons in Europe since the 19th century. The woman, used in Christian art since the 14th century as a metaphor for human transience, stands in drastic contrast to the grave that surrounds her and objectifies death. More than a representation of the contrast between life and death, however, this depiction can also be read as an encoding of the two drives of Eros and Thanatos, conceived together by Sigmund Freud. In the 19th and 20th centuries, (mostly) male artists gave the motif of the mourner a strong erotic charge by slipping garments in their depictions or leaving the female breasts completely uncovered. Some also concentrated only on a headless female torso. The statues are consistently young women who correspond to the respective ideal of beauty of their time. The representation of femininity in (Christian) cemeteries is thus also a mirror for the societal, male-dominated view of women and invites reflection on sepulchral culture.
The photo artist Semiramis has been documenting the (eroticized) representation of women in cemeteries for several years. Especially the Parisian cemeteries, where in the 19th century the artistic design of one's own grave became a status symbol, she has often found, but she has also captured motifs in other major and small European cities.
Info on the artist:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/semiramisphotoart/Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)