Not Your Monster

Metamorphosed, Bug Princess 2019 © Oriana Gatta / Gicleé Print / 20″ x 16” (unframed)

As the first piece I created for this series, Metamorphosed the Bug Princess represents my increasingly obvious desire to blend monstrosity and cuteness in ways that highlight and nullify categorical distinctions ( e.g. “bug/insect” and “princess/girl”) that function as enormous resistance to power sharing with anyone who is not a rich, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, English-speaking, and/or male.

 
Kassogtha 2019 © Oriana Gatta / Gicleé Print / 20″ x 16” (unframed)

Kassogtha, introduced by Joseph Pulver into the Cthulhu Mythos, is Cthulhu’s sister, lover, and birth mother to their twin daughters, Nctosa and Nctolhu. Described as a “writhing mass of tentacles,” and identified as “the leviathan of diseases,” Kassogtha is apparently a fiesty female freak with an endless desire for destruction/consumption/fornication. My visual rendering strongly references Lovecraft’s Cthulhu to encourage comparison between the two and to highlight patriarchal misogyny’s power via conventions of narrative continuity apparent in the Cthulhu Mythos’ expansion.

 
Khelone 2020 © Oriana Gatta / Gicleé Print / 20″ x 16” (unframed)

Punishing women for a disinterest in marriage, for the audacity to practice self care, and most sacrilegious of all, for insolent disobedience of an implied order of a man’s/god’s “invitation” isn’t new material.

I have to confess, though, to mixed feelings about classical Greek god Hermes turning nymph Khelone into a tortoise as punishment for not attending Zeus and Hera’s nuptials. Yes, her new shell meant that she could literally never leave her home again. However, predators and environmental destruction via pollution notwithstanding, a tortoise’s life appeals to me. Swimming, sun bathing, slow & steady movement, and, yes, immediately accessible shelter from danger sound pretty damn good.

 
Phaea 2019 © Oriana Gatta / Gicleé Print / 20″ x 16” (unframed)

In Greek mythology, Phaea is the name of the Crommyonian Sow — a wild, man-eating female pig — Theseus slays as either 1) part of his required labors or 2) as an independent attempt to prove his manhood/bravery above and beyond his required labors. She is also identified as the mother of the Calydonian Boar Artemis sent to punish a king who neglected to worship her.

 
Basilisk 2020 © Oriana Gatta / Gicleé Print / 16″ x 20” (unframed)

Half bird, half snake, full-on look of death. What’s evil — the combination or the lack of categorical distinction? Are we monitoring our transgressions, or is our fear of transgression monitoring us? Is that a basilisk in the panopticon, or are you just happy to scare me?