I had the pleasure a few summers ago of visiting the Acropolis for the first time. There I saw the famous Caryatids of Erectheion, sculptures of women, carved from marble, that hold the porch roof of the Temple of Athena on their sturdy heads. I thought of them while looking at Virginia Maksymowicz’s “Comparisons,” long silk hangings on which are printed photographic images of architectural columns and of women. There are seven pairs in total, some hung side by side, others one in front of the other. The juxtapositions are formally compelling—a sphere finial column perfectly mirrors the silhouette of a Zuni girl balancing a water vessel atop her head; a wiggly column from the South of France echoes the patterns that run vertically up the robe of a Lenape elder. Like the columns, the women are strong enough to bear immense weight. Also like the columns, they are objects—objectified by men, by history, by the law, by art. This paradox, of female value being tied to female objectification, is as true as it is offensive, because the truth itself is so often offensive. This is well expressed in Maksymowicz’s “Comparisons,” as it is by the current reality of the Caryatids of Erectheion: due to pollution, the originals reside in the Acropolis Museum; due to colonialism, one of those is housed in the British Museum.
—Lori Waxman 10/15/2023 4:07 PM