Jesse Jones Resurrects the Witches at the Irish Pavilion in Venice

The artist is representing Ireland at the 2017 Biennale with a political work about feminist archetypes.

Jesse Jones, Tremble Tremble (2017) production image. Photo Ros Kavanagh.

Artist Jesse Jones will represent Ireland at the 57th Venice Biennale, opening this May.

The pavilion, commissioned and curated by Tessa Giblin, will present Tremble Tremble, which takes inspiration from a 1970s chant sung by the women of the Italian Wages for Housework movement: “Tremate, tremate, le streghe sono tornate!” (tremble, tremble, the witches have returned!).

Jones’s work is inspired by the rising social movement in Ireland pushing for a change in the relationship between church and state. In Tremble, Tremble, Jones will call for the return of the witch as a “feminist archetype and disrupter,” with the ability to alter reality.

The artwork imagines a different legal order, one in which the multitude are bought together in a symbolic, gigantic body, to proclaim a new law, that of In Utera Gigantae.

Jones has researched the ways in which the law transmits memory over time, with a research combining an archeological dig of 3.5 million-year-old female specimen, the oppression of women during the 16th century witch trials, the symphysiotomy (a brutal form of caesarean) trials, and the legalisation of abortion in Ireland.

The film work takes testimony, statements, and written lyrics, blending them into a powerful incantation. The artist is collaborating with theatrical artist Olwen Fouéré and sound artist Susan Stenger to make an “expanded form of cinema.”

An accompanying text will be published in both Italian and English, featuring photography by Ros Kavanagh and texts by Silvia Federici, Tina Kinsella, Lisa Godson, and the exhibition curator Tessa Giblin.

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