The myth of Medusa has been reimagined with the help of a powerful new statue installed across the street from the New York City Criminal Court — where Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault.
Medusa With the Head of Perseus, created by Argentine-Italian artist Luciano Garbati, is an updated and thoughtful response to Benvenuto Cellini’s famed sculpture Perseus with the Head of Medusa.
This new work reverses the depiction of the victim and her assailant to show Medusa holding the head of Perseus. That message will now be on display for all to see, including victims of sexual assault and their attackers, when entering and leaving criminal court. Garbati says the statue begs the question: “How can a triumph be possible if they are defeating a victim?”
This new representation of the Ancient Greek pair shows mythology’s most famous rape victim holding the head of her killer as she gazes powerfully in the distance. The statue denounces victim-blaming and serves as a present-day representation of the Me Too movement.
Medusa was a maiden in the temple of Athena, who was raped by Poseidon. Upon hearing this news, his wife Athena banished Medusa and cursed her with both a monstrous head of snakes and a gaze that turns men to stone. Medusa is then forced to live her life as an outcast and vilified for the men she kills, through no fault of her own. Her rapist and his wife meanwhile plot to kill the woman and eventually convince Perseus to behead the monster. Medusa’s head was then put on Perseus’ shield, creating one of the most enduring images in Greek mythology.
It is an image that lives on through today, having been adopted as the logo for Versace three decades ago.
The 7-foot tall bronze statue sculpture weighs 1,000 pounds and has been taking a state tour in recent months. It kicked off at the Brett Kavanaugh hearings in Washington, D.C., and now with the cooperation of the New York City Parks Department, will sit across from criminal court until April 30. The statue was formally unveiled in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday, October 13.