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Exhibition 2/05.2018

The biblical character Salomé has long been a source of fascination to artists and writers. The story of Salome’s dance for her stepfather King Herod in return for the head of John the Baptist is one of the most lurid episodes in the New Testament.

The most influential artistic response was Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé, written in French in 1891. But the play was not publically performed in England until 1931. However, a dance interpretation by Maud Allan became the theatrical phenomenon of 1908. The Vision of Salome (created by Allan herself) ran for eighteen months, creating an atmosphere of ‘Salomania’, and making she a star. A decade later, her career was ruined by a libel trial focused on her sexuality that mirrored Wilde’s downfall in 1895.

Nancy Pressly use the term Salomania in her essay "Salomé: La belle dame sans merci" (1983) to express the proliferation of Salomes in the arts at the end of the 19th century. The popularity of this theme has less to do with modernism or feminism per se than it does with the theme of femme fatale that was pervasive during the period:



“I say that the femme fatale has little to do with feminism because while certainly drawing attention to strong women, this all-male group of writers, painters, and composers use the theme to underscore the idea that women lack reason, and that it is women who will be the downfall of mankind. Salome is therefore a direct descendent of Eve, the ‘archetypal image of woman as an evil and destructive force whose sexuality and very existence threatened the lives of men’".

The exhibition SALOMANIA beyond reflecting on the unfeminist perspective of character od Salomé, has more to do with the creation of imaginaries of Salome through women: artists, actresses, opera singers, rock singers and composers who have incarnated and bringing to life the character of Salome.



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