Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

This Is Madness: Beyoncé and Pipilotti Rist as Maenads

Beyoncé and Pipilotti Rist as Maenads
Caption from Beyonce's Hold Up music video. www.vulture.com

Women Artists

This Is Madness: Beyoncé and Pipilotti Rist as Maenads

Hold on, what does Beyoncé’s music clip and a modern video artwork have to do with Maenadism?

Beyoncé and Pipilotti Rist as Maenads

Caption from Beyonce’s Hold Up music video. www.time.com

She is wearing a feminine, mustard-yellow dress while walking down the street in high hills and a big smile on her face. But don’t be mistaken: Beyoncé is furious. In this scene from a music video Hold Up, which gained over 150 million views, the pop legend smashes car windows with her baseball bat, AKA Hot Sauce. It has also become one of Beyoncé’s most iconic performances.

It may come as a surprise to learn that the scene from Hold Up looks a lot like a work by contemporary artist Pipilotti Rist, titled Ever is Over All. In this a 1997 video installation, Rist walks down a similar looking street. Here she smashes car windows not with a baseball bat, but with a big flower. She seems to be in some kind of an ecstatic state of mind and looks misplaced, ripped away from something. Just like the flower she holds.

Beyoncé and Pipilotti Rist as Maenads

Pipilotti Rist, Ever is Over All, 1997 © 2018 Pipilotti Rist, www.moma.org


After comparing the two, the artistic influence of Ever is Over All on Hold Up seems obvious. At one point Beyoncé was actually accused of stealing the idea from Rist. This brings up another question – what influenced Rist to create her video installation?

Beyoncé and Pipilotti Rist as Maenads

Dr. Nava Sevilla-Sadeh, an art history professor at Tel Aviv University, suggests an answer in a recent article. She claims that Rist’s performance is heavily based on Maenads: a group of women depicted in Greek mythology.


According to Dr. Sevilla-Sadeh, Maenadism is a religious ritual which celebrates Dionysus, the god of wine and, like the Maenads, he is also associated with religious madness. During the ritual, the Maenads danced violently, sang and cried to at its peak experience Euphoria – a sense of complete relaxation. In a similar way, both contemporary artists Rist and Beyoncé look extremely calm while performing violent actions. Furthermore, the representations of Maenads holding a big flower, just like the one Rist used, were found on different vase fragments.

Beyoncé and Pipilotti Rist as Maenads

Maenad carrying a hind, fragment of an Attic red figure cup, ca. 480 BC, Louvre Museum, Paris

All of the antique examples show a manic, out-of-control, and crazy woman. who despite their feminine dress perform actions which are not stereotypically feminine. Similarly, Rist and Beyoncé’s are wearing dresses, hills and have long hair, yet their mad behaviour does not ‘suit’ their appearance. This contrast is what makes representations of Maenadism in art so interesting: it challenges the conceptions of how a woman should behave, from ancient times to this day.

For more information:
  


Noa is an undergraduate Art History student who lives just outside Tel Aviv. She enjoys traveling the globe, visiting exciting art exhibitions and overanalysing the hidden symbolism of various TV shows.

Comments

More in Women Artists

  • dailyart

    #MeToo Arrived in Museums: Fighting for Visibility in Berlin

    By

    Since the 1970s and the emergence of feminist art, we have been witnessing the development of feminist art scholarship. Authors like Linda Nochlin or Griselda Pollock have been asking the ‘uncomfortable’ questions about female as an agent and female as an object of art. Their work...

  • Contemporary Art

    Conversations with Naomi Frears

    By

    Naomi Frears is a visual artist and filmmaker based in the Porthmeor Studios in St Ives, UK. I was lucky enough to touch base with this incredible artist as her new exhibition begins at Beaux Arts, London. The exhibition consists of over 25 new works using...

  • Contemporary Art

    Billie Bond’s Kintsugi: The Crack Is Where the Light Gets in

    By

    Kintsugi (金継ぎ translates as “gold joinery”) is a Japanese art form and philosophy of repairing broken or cracked pottery with gold or silver colored lacquer. Unlike normal methods of repair, the “damage” is not camouflaged or hidden but is highlighted, revealed and emphasized. Much like the...

  • 20th century

    Magdalena Rădulescu – a Romanian Woman Painter

    By

    Magdalena Rădulescu (1902- 1983) is a singular phenomenon among the Romanian and European painters. Her work (she had an artistic career spanning half a century) has, of course, common traits with that of other contemporary painters, but cannot be fully inscribed in a specific style or...

  • Baroque

    Painting of the Week: Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes

    By

    Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1656) was the most accomplished female painter of the Italian Baroque. She specialized in Biblical scenes of strong women fulfilling their higher destinies. Her most famous painting, Judith Slaying Holofernes, not only captures the drama and intensity of the subject, but it...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy