Anna Furse: muscle: a question of power

Friday 28 April – Sunday 20 August 2023
Anna Furse: muscle: a question of power | Friday 28 April – Sunday 20 August 2023 | Crawford Art Gallery | Image: strong magenta background; to the left, we partially see, photographed, the muscular arm and leg of (probably) a female body-builder

“Take two steps back and look right.
Compare her curves to the figure at the end:
a male athlete extended in archery,
counter-tension of front left arm and back right,
the body gently held upright,
all energy and calm centre.
like his missing bowstring.
Sound of stretching elastic and a ping
Look back at Venus,
all soft and simpering.
Sound of muscle”

Created by Anna Furse, muscle is an immersive experience that takes visitors on an audio-guided journey through Crawford Art Gallery’s historic collection of Canova Casts.

Designed to bring visitors up close and personal with these ancient Classical forms, muscle is an invitation to contemplate the idealised nude, and its legacy today. The viewing of these artworks – which were once objects of international relations and teaching – is from a ‘lived body’ experience: that is, the visitor is prompted to experience these figurative forms not only visually, but also viscerally and imaginatively. The audio-guide refers the spectator to their own body sensations, presence, and curiosity as they are invited to follow gentle but precise instructions to progress through the Sculpture Galleries.

muscle engages with society’s contemporary and damaging obsessions with beauty and perfection, strength and power. It alludes historically not only to the Ancient Greek cultivation of mind and body in service to the State, but to the Nazi obsession with Antiquity in its effort to sculpt the flesh of the German nation according to Greek ideals. In exploring examples of the traditional male heroic body, muscle raises specific awareness of women and muscle, and how ‘the weaker sex’ gains agency through the acquisition of physical strength. This does not settle the matter, however, since the question of the body’s muscularity and strength remains an on-going question in today’s gender discourse.

The experience culminates in a new video film, women talking – muscle: a question of power. Created with Kilian Waters, Furse engages the voices of women who work professionally with their muscularity: a 73-year-old (and still active) dancer-choreographer; a para-athlete; a soldier; a pole-dancer; a bodybuilder; and a top fashion model.

This project has been created by Anna Furse, Theatre Artist, Writer, and Professor Emerita, Goldsmiths, University of London

In collaboration with:
Sound Composer: Graeme Miller
Filmmaker: Kilian Waters
Producer:  Paula Van Hagen
Research Assistant: Ruah Berney-Pearson
Graphic Designer: Dave Darcy
Curator: Michael Waldron
Production Manager: Kathryn Coughlan

Friday 28 April – Sunday 20 August 2023
Crawford Art Gallery
Emmet Place, Cork
Telephone: +353 21 4805042
Opening hours / start times:
Monday 10:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 10:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 20:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00
Admission / price: Free

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