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Through my research I ask if Renaissance art created a set of Visual Contracts, and I hypothesize that its legacy continues to control our social, political, and religious behaviour to this day. Is it possible to challenge representations of women that have been dictated by male artists and their patrons since the Renaissance era? Are we able to break the silent contract that was imposed on mothers first by the Church and later by the State out of the exclusive religious context? How could we challenge the iconography of the ‘obedient bereaved mother’?

Featured Media

Crude Ashes, mother, child

Crude Ashes, mother, child

, Leni Dothan, 2016, 03:00' min video in loop

commissioned by Stations of the Cross

In this practice-led research project I examine specific Renaissance icons as creating and cementing Visual Contracts. These contracts imposed on women patterns of thoughts, social and political conventions. I argue that Renaissance art created depictions of women which are controlling, framing and forcing women to be submissive and imposing a concept of an ‘ideal woman’ that persists today.

I aim to examine and breach these Visual Contracts with my artworks; videos, sculptures, photographs and installations made from the point of view of a 21st century mother and woman. My works offer new narratives, challenging these emotional and ideological prisons for women, which continue to exert an undeniable effect upon women’s psyche and the way they are perceived by others.


Instagram: @leni_dothan