Making Art in 2017: Sarah Carr on Mistress of the Maze
Name: Sarah Carr
Show in 2017 Festival: Mistress of the Maze
Past Festival shows: None: this is my first!
FringeArts: Tell us about your show.
Sarah Carr: Mistress Of the Maze explores the ancient Minoan myths and rituals that inspired the classical Greek tale of Ariadne, Theseus, and the Minotaur. I am an anthropologist as well as a dancer and fiber artist, and I have always been fascinated by the Bronze Age civilizations.
The Greek version of the tale of the Labyrinth is well known, but it reflects the values and concerns of the ancient Greeks: there’s a strong brave man to save the day (Theseus), a monster to slay (the Minotaur), and a princess (Ariadne) to be carried away when the task is complete. However, this well-known tale was crafted roughly two millennia after the Minoan palaces on Crete were abandoned. It is an appropriation of Minoan icons and symbols that retains almost nothing of the original context.
Minoan culture was starkly different than Ancient Greece. Images of warfare, so common in Ancient Greek art, are nearly absent in Minoan art. Minoan culture was mercantile, trading with and adopting influences from the lands surrounding the ancient Aegean. Minoan religion does not feature any clear depictions of male deities. Images of goddesses, and women interpreted to be priestesses, abound. Ariadne, rather than a princess awaiting her prince, was likely Labrynthinos Potnia. She was a goddess whose sacred symbols included the Labrys, the double-headed axe for which the Labyrinth is named, as well as the horns of the bull, the snake, and the honey bee. In this work, I am attempting to reclaim the identity of Ariadne, to create dances that feel like rituals dedicated to the principle of feminine power that was so very important in Minoan culture. It is not meant to be a historical reenactment, as the production uses very stylized masks and costumes. I wanted instead to capture the essence of this culture and pay respect to their myths and symbols.
FringeArts: How have your interests in and/or approach to art making changed in the last year?
Sarah Carr: I always loved research and this piece has given me the opportunity to delve more deeply into the world of Ancient Crete. At the same time, the political climate over the past year has been so shockingly anti-woman at times that the piece began to take on new dimensions. Ariadne is, after all, a goddess. The Greek tale took that power away from her and relegated her to a lesser role that fit better with their patriarchal view of the world. In presenting this piece at this particular moment, I hope to remind both men and women of the beauty and power of a woman in charge.
FringeArts: Tell us about an instance from 2017 when your interaction with art—either as creator or audience—provided some much needed solace or refuge from outside troubles.
Sarah Carr: I just—as in less than a month ago—moved to Philadelphia from Boston. One of the primary factors in my decision was the abundance of public art here in Philly. When I was making preliminary visits before my move, I just felt the life and the breath of the city in every mosaic and mural. Everyone I have met here is so proud of that art, nobody takes it for granted. Art can be like a whispered secret, or a shout across a bridge; but I feel like Philly’s urban art is like a song we all know the words to. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m so happy to be a part of this city.
Mistress of the Maze
$15 / 50 minutes
Sept 16 and 17 @ CHI Movements Art Center, 1316 South 9th street