Upon first glance, Anastasia Booth’s copper sculpture Teresa appears to be a wingspan or a bird about to take flight: an ethereal vision that is part of this world but destined for elsewhere. Yet, these carefully polished copper rays are highly tangible; when illuminated, they exude warmth, while the shadows they cast vary and extend their mysteries further.
Like other artists included in this exhibition (specifically, Audrey Flack and Nigel Milsom), Booth has appropriated an element from Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. Here, the artist focuses on the otherworldly rays of light that exude from above the figure of the saint and signify divine love and ecstasy. Booth pays respect to the Baroque materiality of Bernini’s work, but substitutes Bernini’s burnished brass with polished and rosy copper. However, this is no straightforward or slavish copy – the span of Booth’s rays appears significantly wider, as if Bernini’s original chapel had restricted them. Booth has reflected on her work:
Once installed and lit with spot lighting, I noticed how the arrangement of the panels not only referenced divine light, but also started to allude to figural depiction, pronounced by the panel rising head-like from the centre of the arc, the tips of the bow spread-eagled with the copper tubing radiating out like arms or wings. … Looking at this arrangement with its bodily resemblance, it evoked other religious iconography – a silhouette of an angel with outstretched wings, saints ascending to heaven with billowing robes, and martyred bodies affixed to crosses.1
Teresa was part of Booth’s 2016 solo exhibition ‘Preaching to the Perverted‘ at Metro Arts (Brisbane), in which Booth explored past narratives of goddesses, saints and her “fascination with depictions of female desire, sexuality and authority in a contemporary context.”2
Anastasia Booth was Artist in Residence at Metro Arts, Brisbane, in 2017. She has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Sydney), Screen Space (Melbourne), Australian Experimental Art Foundation (Adelaide), Boxcopy Contemporary Arts Space (Brisbane), BLINDSIDE Artist-Run Initiative (Melbourne), and Griffith University Art Gallery (Brisbane).
1. Anastasia Booth, “Playing with Me: Feminine Perspectives in Fetishism and Contemporary Art” (PhD dissertation, Queensland University of Technology, 2016), unpaginated.
2. “Preaching to the Perverted,” Metro Arts (website), 2016, http://www.metroarts.com. au/posts/preaching-to-the-perverted/.