Saint Dynamite

Saint Dynamite
Anonymous
Found 02/2012, Salvation Army (Anderson Mill and 183)

The former TAMONNATAOA curator listed this piece as Best Girlfriend Ever, but after deeper analysis into the layers of the canvas suggested religious iconography, the untitled work has been listed as Saint Dynamite. The character Dynamite portrayed occupies a strange liminal space between action hero (or villain) and the realm of the purely feminine, portrayed most clearly in her surreal costume: a piece that combines the skintight latex jumpsuit with a wide-skirted fashion runway piece.

Also, she is holding a lit stick of dynamite, which generally suggests intent.

Her body is tense and still, only a single motion line suggesting movement. She is poised, warily evaluating threats to both her corporeal self and to third-wave feminist ideology. Every motion and line builds tension.

StDynamite3Our art historian theorizes that originally this piece depicted Dynamite as a saint, either as a violent aspect of the Madonna or as her own beatification, suggesting that the saints and martyrs of the modern world may represent holy warriors against the gender hegemony rather than the traditional religious sufferers and exemplars of the old hagiographies. Either the anonymous artist or his teacher was uncomfortable with this suggestion, and Dynamite’s glorious halo was removed–perhaps by the artist, perhaps by later critics—damaging the shoulders of Dynamite’s costume in the process. Some suggestion of the halo remains, which we have emphasized in the detail at left.

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