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A new Medusa sculpture now stands victoriously across from NYC criminal court

The statue flips the classic myth on its head, presenting Medusa as victorious over those who would blame and slay her.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

A statue of Medusa, the mythological monster with snakes for hair, was unveiled in front of the New York County Criminal Court on Tuesday, and while it may seem random, it's meant to be a picture of empowerment for victims.

Medusa With The Head of Perseus by Argentine-Italian artist Luciano Garbati stands seven feet tall in Collect Pond Park on Centre St. The figure, a nude woman, holds a sword in one hand and the head of Perseus in the other. It was cast in bronze by Vanessa Solomon of Carbon Sculpt Studios in Red Hook and Laran Bronze Foundry in Philadelphia.

For those who are a little rusty on their Greek mythology, Medusa was a maiden in Athena's temple who was stalked and "violated" or raped by Poseidon, according to Ovid’s Metamorphosis. "She was once most beautiful, and the jealous aspiration of many suitors. Of all her beauties none was more admired than her hair," the story says.

Medusa statue
Photograph: Courtesy MWTH

When Athena finds out about the rape, she banishes and curses Medusa (the victim) with a head of snakes and a gaze that turns men to stone. Athena and Poseidon aid the epic hero Perseus to hunt her down and behead her. Perseus displays her head as a trophy on his shield.

Medusa With The Head (MWTH) is an artist-led project that explores the narrative habits of classical stories as well as their role in present culture and vision of the future. It says Medusa's story is part of a narrative of victim shaming stories of sexual violence through time and is relevant to this day. By flipping the story on its head, presenting Medusa as victorious over those who would blame and slay her, Garbati asks "How can a triumph be possible if you are defeating a victim?" By exploring the woman behind the myth, she hopes to give her a moment of empowerment.

Its placement across from criminal court is also meaningful—high profile abuse cases, including the Harvey Weinstein trial, have taken place here. By installing the statue here, it becomes "an icon of justice and the power of narrative."

MWTH makes sculptural editions and other iconographic representations, like Garbati's statue, available with 10 percent of proceeds donated to the National Women’s Law Center. 

It'll be up through April 30, 2021.

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