For more than four decades, Elaine Reichek has been working on a critical and feminist reading of historical texts and images. The analytical engagement with narratives from myth and literature and the reflection on their social function as a medium of cultural cohesion run through the artist’s oeuvre like the thread that Ariadne gave to Theseus so that he would find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth.
In her first solo exhibition in Austria, the New York-based artist presents works from the past eleven years that explore the figures of the “Minoan girls” and the stories of lust, seduction, cruelty, and betrayal associated with them: Europa, Pasiphaë, Phaedra, and Ariadne. Although their tragic fates are key to the narratives in which they appear, they are often seen as supporting characters; the heroes are invariably men. Reichek, by contrast, puts the spotlight on the women, examining their complex characters by compiling different interpretations and depictions, and assembling eclectic arrangements of elements from visual art and literature to break through overly narrow constructions: in the artist’s hands, appropriation becomes a strategy of emancipation.