Judith XXI


The solemn hieratism of the statue depicting a young delicately-built woman standing firmly astride is intended to affirm the superiority of beauty and courage over unreasoned brutal force personified in the head resembling the Arab master of terror Osama bin Laden. The eternal conflict enshrined in the Bible’s historical narrative by the story of the valiant widow Judith is invested with modern forms and relevance to important events of the present. The elucidative details (camp boots, a case with ammunition) and accessories (a ring, a locket, a watch) are treated in an emphatically decorative fashion. Intense colour contrasts – white against rich umber – do not so much aggrandize the image as lend to it a cheerful, hedonistic feel. The smile beaming on the woman’s face is openly ironic; the statue’s futuristic optimism is invested with the polysemy of postmodernist irony. Against this background, the terrorist’s head, devoid of grotesque emotional manifestations (fear, pain, or suffering) looks quite indeterminate, an emblem of eternal absolute evil. The nearly porcelain-like daintiness of the girl’s delicately proportioned figure, defenceless in its nakedness, convinces viewers of the wisdom of people of the past, who found power not in the strength of body but in the moral beauty of truth. Judith is the allegorical image of a happy future the hope for which is created by beauty, purity and the light of youth confident of its rightness.

 

Brief annotations to the image

JUDITH (see preceding annotation) was a young widow who saved Bethulia from the enemy’s army led by Holofernes. The image became a symbol of victory over brutal force. In modern contexts, this brutal force can be interpreted, in particular, as the universal threat of terrorism, emblematized, in this case, by the head of Osama bin Laden (one of the greatest masters of terror of the present) in a woman’s hands.