The Female Pope


In creating diverse performance personas, including, for example The Female Pope, 2010, Friction International Live Art Festival, Uppsala, Sweden, I identify the predominantly patriarchal Christian ritual persona of the Pope, and subvert this image with that of a culturally hybrid female pope, a concept drawn from the myth of Pope Joan, and a synthesis of Kali and the Black Madonna.

The Female Pope is an example of pure frisson of “tradition transgressed”, when the power of the image emanates a sense of bodily blasphemy, yet, by situating myself in the classical framework of costume and style, I attempt to align notions of sacred and secular. The formal setting of the “enthroned” female pope in my work is aesthetically disruptive of tradition, when situated in an archbishop’s cathedral.

By reimagining the female pope, I attempt to dispute the ambivalence and prejudice surrounding gender in both secular and religious contexts. The work is one example of how I explore the body’s relationship with cultural and religious institutions, drawn from both Catholic and Hindu iconography and ritual. Specifically in the context of my own performance development, it exemplifies my performance repertoire that subverts Hindu iconography, through dance and live art practice.

The Female Pope was performed in the following places:

2010 Friction International Live Art Festival Uppsala, Sweden

2010 Art Contact Helsinki, Finland

2013 Performance Space, Carriageworks Sydney, Australia

2014 The Grey Zone New York

2014 ex-Teresa de Arte Actual Mexico City, Mexico

Video Links

Audience with the Female Pope, Art Museum
Uppsala, Sweden, 2010 (at 6.31 min.)

Audience with the Female Pope: Performance Space
Carriageworks Sydney 2013 (at 4.min.)

Audience with The Female Pope: The Grayzone
New York (Grace Exhibition Space), 2014 (at 3.min)