Odocoileus Virginianus (White-Tailed Deer) is barbaric, violent, explicitly sexual and perhaps even irrational. It is a casting of myself as Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. I find it necessary to draw attention to this image because it comments upon the unresolved problem of women desperately resisting being rooted in their determined societal place.
Providing the origin for this kind of thought, Greek mythology exemplifies the objectification of women. They are portrayed as vessels for pity and mercy with unbridled hearts that need to be capped and controlled. As implicitly sexual beings, women can never exist except on the ampersand between virgin and whore, so they are perpetually caught in the snare of limited gender roles. Odocoileus Virginianus is a materialization of the notion of divisions within the female self. The polyptych contains a complete composition, yet it is just as easily seen denoting fragments of a whole.
Greeks were also particularly concerned with equating women to containers. The Greek word for “vessel” was used to describe a placenta and a container used to accrue the blood of a sacrificed animal. Relating to this notion of women’s bodily functions, the doe in Odocoileus Virginianus is a proxy for a vessel drained of substance. Women carry and bear children just as a vessel is filled and emptied of its contents, always housing the liquidity that changes form according to its purpose. Our society continues to market the womb, even though there isn’t a strict patriarchic effort to keep lineage in the bloodline.
Death is an extreme initiative some women believe will free them from the overbearing essentialization of their being. They are either killed for their sexual deviancy or commit suicide because they can never fully escape patriarchal discourse. In mythological tales, Artemis makes herself an example of this killing by perpetuating the notion of sexual purity. She punishes other gods and goddesses by transforming them into beasts or sacrificing them because they disrespect her puritanical beliefs.
Freedom by way of killing, however, is not a rational revelation. Odocoileus Virginianus is purposefully painted to divert the viewer from how Artemis behaved. The deer is the animal that Artemis protects and holds most indispensable to her nature. By her act of field dressing a doe, she is literally splitting the representation of herself into two halves, desperately delving into the center of her femininity, where the danger of her significance lies. She is on a despairing hunt to find legitimacy for the oscillation in her tortured body. It is with this gesture of hunting internally that Artemis, or any woman, will be able to find her strength. Change by way of involution is the only way to get at the core of the problem. We have to rethink the very notion of femininity to get away from patriarchal discourse.