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Tirtzah Bassel Reimagines Classic Art From The Female Gaze

Artist Tirtzah Bassel unveiled her project which reimagined various classic artworks – but from the perspective of women. In an interview with ArtNews, Bassel shared her thoughts on the project titled ‘Canon in Drag’.

Tirtzah Bassel first conceived the idea after she conceived a child – literally. Coming home after delivering her kid, Bassel noticed something – the act of childbirth was missing in pretty much every classic painting. Further investigation led Bassel to the conclusion that it wasn’t just childbirth that was missing – it was everything women-specific. These included menstruation, breastfeeding, and anything else related to women which were non-sexual in nature. In her own words “Like, if men gave birth, wouldn’t every single male artist have his depiction of birth that was a quasi–self-portrait? That’s obvious”.

Menstruating Martyr (2022)

So Tirtzah Bassel decided to take things into her own hands. A few months later, she was ready with the finished product: Canon in Drag. The series takes classic paintings by masters and re-imagines them in a brand-new perspective – made by, about, and for women. For instance, she took Crucifixion Diptych (1460) by Rogier van der Weyden (a painting depicting the crucifixion of Jesus) and instead made it Menstruating Martyr (2022) – a painting about a menstruating woman on the crucifix. Other works like The Origin of the World (1866) and The Nativity (1450) also undergo similar treatments. Bassel also explains that instead of discarding these works and building something from scratch, she wanted to expand on the canon.

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The series was on display at the Slag Gallery in New York from October 27 to December 3 this year.