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From solo exhibition: Daughters of Uranium, 2019-2020

Cast uranium glass; steel table; Ultraviolet light

Fabrication assistance by Matthew MacMillan, Prairie Studio Glass, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Modelling assistance by Brenna Lowrey, Lethbridge, Alberta

In Isabelle Allende’s novel, The House of the Spirits (1982), the character of Rosa is born with green hair and translucent skin, her legendary beauty a source of awe for the people around her. In her tale of magic realism, Allende follows the Trueba family in Chile across several generations, creating an allegory of resilience in the face of political upheaval. Rosa dies from poison intended for her father, an assassination gone awry. Significantly, she is then autopsied and defiled by a medical practitioner who assists in her evisceration. Rosa poignantly stands in as the innocent or unintended casualty amidst political bids for power. 

Cast in radioactive uranium glass, Kavanagh’s Rosa hovers between effigy and autopsy, her supine position evoking an eighteenth-century Anatomical Venus, an immaculately crafted figure made of wax, conceived as a medical teaching tool. In this work, Kavanagh depicts of body – especially the female body – as a site of violence by the military-medical complex.

ROSA THE BEAUTIFUL

MARY KAVANAGH   © 2023 Mary Kavanagh