Camille Claudel, Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Jana Sterbak, Berlinde De Bruyckere
Palais des papes
9 june – 11 nov. 2013
The title of this exhibition goes back to the story of Pope Joan, that astonishing medieval legend who predated the Popes in Avignon. A well-educated and charismatic personality who was elected Pope, and reigned as such in the 9th century, up until the moment when it was discovered that God’s earthly representative was pregnant. The child was born prematurely, during a public procession at the end of which both Pope Joan and her child died. It was under the aegis of this symbolic figure that five female artists were chosen, as female popes of modern and contemporary art: Camille Claudel, Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Jana Sterbak, Berlinde De Bruyckere.
In the exhibition, their works form a dialogue from one place to another (the monumental works at the Palace of the Popes, the Lambert Collection’s small sculptures and works on paper). They weave together aesthetic and thematic links: the father/mother/child bond so dear to Camille Claudel, Louise Bourgeois or Kiki Smith; the transformation of the human body – Berlinde De Bruyckere, Kiki Smith; the medieval alchemy which brought people and planets together – Kiki Smith, Jana Sterbak, Louise Bourgeois…
The collected works of these high priestesses have been chosen to reconstruct Avignon’s medieval history, the time when early theatre portrayed mystery plays, so that the fear of the Devil could be exorcised, and the celebrated prophecies of Nostradamus expressed.