This project addresses the authenticity of a renowned Minoan artefact: the so-called “Snake Goddess”. Discovered in 1903 by Arthur Evans during the excavations in the “palatial” complex of Knossos, the faience figurine has been widely used both within the archaeological and non-archaeological spheres.
Archaeologically, the “Snake Goddess” contributed to crysalising Evans’ theories about the existence of a Minoan matriarchy and a Mother Goddess cult. In more popular spheres, the figurine’s image has been used as a logo for local Cretan public services or for commercial purposes.
Despite – or maybe precisely because of? – her popularity, it is only recently that the authenticity of the mythical Snake Goddess figure has began to be questioned. It has indeed only been in the last decade that archaeologists have began openly exposing the fact that the figurine was not found in the state she presently is in. In reality, only two parts of the existing item were retrieved from the excavations; the rest of the body was reconstructed by the Gilliéron conservators under the auspices of Evans. Crete’s beloved Snake Goddess is therefore a reconstruction – from Evans’ application of his imagination to Minoan remains.
By encompassing a range of different media, the “Snake or Fake” project addresses this particular matter, inviting the onlooker to reflect upon the authenticity of the popular image and about how easily it can be manipulated.
Snake or Fake? (acrylic on plaster, 1.20m x 1.90m), April 2018.
Snake or Fake? (acrylic and red spray paint on plaster, 1.20m x 1.90m), July 2018.
On 02.07.2018, the “Snake or Fake?” wall painting was vandalised, as were many other wall paintings in the city (https://www.cretalive.gr/crete/kapoioi-de-theloyn-thn-polh-omorfh). Red paint was sprayed over the works, leaving many of them irreversibly damaged. Following some retouching, however, it was possible to save the “Snake or Fake?”. Through serependity the “bleeding” wall painting therefore now allows for the consideration of additional questions such as: How does Evans’ projection of the Minoan women sit with modern feminist theory? Are archaeological reconstructions hurtful to artefacts?
Detail of ivory decay (15.5cm x 9.5cm), 2018.
The Concrete Age of Goddess (11.5cm x 14cm), 2018.