The Last Woman Standing, March 4 - 17th, 2016
An ongoing conversation between Vancouver-based artist Colleen Heslin and the British Museum, regarding the Assyrian sculpture titled The Last Woman Standing.
"The most confusing word in the wall didactic is ‘unflattering’ to describe the statue. Is this word used to describe the statue as a sculpture unflattering, or the female form carved and represented as unflattering? Who perceives this as unflattering, the Assyrian people or modern western audience? I am struggling to read this as an objective reading of the work when in other places this statue is cited as produced for the purpose of enjoyment and titillation. If enjoyment was the intention of the statue for the Assyrian people, then I am to think that this statue represents an ideal figure of its time, rather then an unflattering one..”
- Selection from letter to The British Museum by Colleen Heslin.
“While ancient concepts of beauty are not necessarily easy to grasp we are of course not blind to the fact that ancient cultures are remote and ancient cultures, but we have a great deal of evidence from Mesopotamian art that beauty in women can never have been exemplified in this statue. Perhaps you will disagree but then, ultimately, this is a matter of personal taste, but against the backdrop of Mesopotamian statuary and likenesses on all scales this statue is unquestionably ‘unflattering’ as it is coarsely finished, heavy, lumpen, distorted and reminiscent of an ape.”
- Selection from response letter from Dr I. L. Finkel, Assistant Keeper, Department of the Middle East, The British Museum
Colleen Heslin is an artist and independent curator based in Vancouver, BC. Heslin has an MFA in Painting and Drawing from Concordia University and is the winner of the 2013 RBC Painting Competition. Heslin’s work explores medium crossovers and metaphysical concerns relating to material and causality. Founder of The Crying Room Projects in 1999, Heslin facilitates an independent and ongoing public mural space for emerging artists in Vancouver. Heslin’s most recent solo exhibitions were held at the Charles H. Scott Gallery in Vancouver, 2015, and the Esker Foundation in Calgary, 2016. Her work has been exhibited and published in Canada, the United States, and Europe.