In the Greek mythology, women who went to war equally next to men were described as Amazones. Amazones wore a so called Phrygia cap, symbolising freedom. That cap originally was made out of a bull‘s scrotum together with its surrounding fur. Amazones attributed the cap‘s ability of transfering power and strength of the bull to its wearer. For the Greeks, Amazones were foreign and alien to them and therefore seen as enemies which eventually lead to a battle. Nevertheless, Greek mythology tells about an affair betweeen the Queen of Amazones, Antiope, and the Greek hero Theseus. It can be seen an ambivalence between the foreign from which war arises on the one side and the attraction and love to the unknown on the other side. Moreover, the scene stands for oppression of the matriarchal system. It was that otherness of the Amazones that fascinated the Greeks. The mythology of the Amazones includes natural elements that are seen over and over again in human history. The positive example here is love, existing despite of, or maybe even due to the foreign. As a negative example the myth shows the oppression of women, the ongoing battle of men to win out over women, to muzzle them and make women unable to act. Amazones are a paradigmatic sign for opposites. As has been pointed out, their relation to the Greeks shows an ambivalence between recognition and rejection. They also demonstrate something nomadic but also settled as well as border crossing in relation to genders. It was the women, who fought side by side with men, which actually matchs the archetype of men. Therefore, Amazones are an example to demonstrate that there is nothing like fixed gender roles, but rather is it about a general solidarity within a group. With regard to gender issues, Askold Ivantchik comes to the conclusion that Amazones didn‘t want to build a parallel world next to a male-dominated Greek society. They rather followed the idea of equality within a society.
Valeska Peschke picks up the idea of the Amazone‘s Phrygia cap to further develop her concept of the Mission of Amikejo. The so called liberty cap (in German „Jakobinermütze“), a simulation of the phrygian cap, stands as a symbol character for victory over the republic France. The revolutionary Marianne was wearing the cap during the French Revolution (painted by Eugene Delacroix 1830). Also the artist Arnold Böcklin is representing liberty by a woman who is holding an eagle in the one hand (symbol of secular power) and a palm branch in the other (symbol of divine omnipotence). This woman is also wearing the liberty cap as an emblem of liberty and revolt against the authority.
In Greek mythology, Europe was a woman, seduced or even abducted by Zeus, who transformed himself into a bull in order to deceive his suspicious wife Hera as also Europe. The myth can be narrated much more detailed, however, this quick outline is enough to get to the heart of the issue; the myth is showing a love relationships as well as a battle of the sexes. On the one side we have the male dominance, on the other side there is the victory of Europe as a new continent.
The authority, against which the woman of the French Revolution as also Böcklins „The Liberty“ stand, are continuously men. In regards to the Greek mythology we can say the authority is the bull. Just like Zeus ruled, we nowadays have the finance and business world ruling which is dominated by 90 percent men.
As an artist, Peschke wants to emphasize on women's power and strength in terms of the liberty or Phrygia cap and show that Europe originally is a woman. Art-historically, many times attention was put on women fighting for liberty and equality. Peschke picks up this idea and realizes it in the shape of a creative cap to show that once again it‘s going to be women who will save Europe.
While the hat is a classical status symbol and therefore always within a system, the cap is a much smoother element which keeps its form, yet can still be formed to some extent. It‘s socially concurring to take off one‘s hat in closed rooms, so it is not continuously present. However, caps are seen as part of the whole person, they are not meant to be taken off or at least there are no rules of conduct and therefore caps tend to be revolutionary.
Finally it should be seen that also the volcano, just like the Amazones, is uniting feminity and masculinity in one complementing system. The dominance of one part is leading to a diminution of the other and eventually ends in a negative impact.
1Robert von Ranke-Graves: Griechische Mythologie, Quellen und Deutung. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag 1987.
2Gyula László: Steppenvöler und Germanen. Kunst der Völkerwanderungszeit. Herrsching, Ammersee: Pawlak Verlag 1970.
Copyright © All Rights Reserved Idea & Concept & Art by Valeska Peschke, Berlin 2016