VIR Update 1

Written by Maya Gurantz on August 12th, 2014

As Visualist in Residence, I have been working here for a couple of weeks now. The focus of the project I applied with was early Los Angeles gurus, invented religions, mystics, cults leaders.

ICI received an incredible library of feminist Wiccan and spiritualist literature right before I started, which has shifted my focus to witchy feminist alternative spiritualism for my time here.

I’ve set up my altar.

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Working my way through these books:

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Starhawk has been particularly mind-blowing for me.

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I’m also very much enjoying the ICI’s educational film strip collection.
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Having come into this residency recently very inspired by Marina Warner’s Beast and the Blonde, I’ve availed myself of Shulamit Shahar’s Fourth Estate: A history of women in the Middle Ages. Some highlights:

Women testified which of a pair of twins was born first, or to the existence of an heir who had died immediately after its birth as claimed by one of the litigants (two questions which sometimes arose in inheritance suits). When a wife applied to the ecclesiastical court for separation from her husband on the grounds of his impotence, women were sent to investigate the allegation. In secular courts, in case of rape, women gave evidence after examining the plaintiff; in cases of infanticide women were appointed to examine the breasts of all the women in the vicinity to find out if any of them had secretly given birth. In none of the cases could a man give evidence, and the court in effect recognized the testimony of women.

Speaking less eruditely and in a more personal tone, Heloise asks how a philosopher can contemplate and write in a poor household, amidst the chatter of maid-servants, the sound of lullabies, the cry of babies and the constant confusion and noise caused by young children

 

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