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The Use and Reinterpretation of the Image of Virgin Mary in late 20th-Century Contemporary Art

Younhee Kim 1

1국민대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

These different versions of Holy Mary emerged in the late 20th century can be categorized in many ways. One version is a theoretical reinterpretation of topics such as life and death, social relationship and communications, spiritual healing which are somewhat distant from teachings of Catholic Church. Another Mary shows hyperfemininity symbolizing the physical and social reality of women around the world while other Mary shows an interpretation of mother-nature as a perpetrator of subordination. Therefore, we can see that Mary has become more complex and unfamiliar in a post modern society which can be summed up as diversity and uncertainty. This is a result of some feminists and artists who saw Mary as perpetrator of dual imprisonment. They used her to sever from the era in which women were forced into physical and psychological sacrifice. The Virgin Mary was also used as a whistle-blower that brought attention to the harsh and uncertain reality as well as a caretaker for the marginalized. There is another concern - that the borrowing and reinterpretation of the Virgin Mary were inevitably accompanied by the damaging and changing of her image and ultimately, the danger of committing sacrilege. Underneath the depiction of the Virgin Mary as aggressive and provocative lied negative perspective that non-believers of Catholicism had on the excessive reverence of the Virgin Mary and Mariology as well as their intention to attack the corruption and prejudice of the Catholic Church. Many of artists who reinterpreted the Virgin Mary were known as catholic or received catholic education, and they used it as a means of communication which could reveal the desired content and religious or social criticism to the public. The Virgin Mary was treated by many artists not only as a direct target for the criticism and doubts on Catholic church and its doctrine but also as a complex and polysemous expression of representing insecure political, economic, and cultural realities of individuals and modern society or disposing a tragic status of female, homosexuals, and minorities.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.