There are multiple pietàs. This is the first one, the pink version. Its sibling is the black version.
This tapestry is about the story of Adam and Eve and Original Sin in relation to contemporary society, especially what effect the Bible story still has in our Western society today. In Paradise, the devil disguised as a snake tempted Eve to take a bite of the forbidden apple, then Eve tempted Adam, resulting in both being banished from Paradise.
This story has caused women to be labelled cunning, seductive and untrustworthy for centuries. After all, it was the wife’s fault that we had to leave Paradise. It all happened to Adam and he couldn’t help it, he was tempted. We see this anno today in how women are treated when they bring up misconduct and when they have to defend themselves against misconduct.
Were you harassed? Wasn’t your skirt too short? You must have asked for it yourself.
With that in mind, I made a Pieta of the Fall of Man, marking the exodus from Paradise. We see the Garden of Eden, the left panel of the painting the Garden of Delights by Hieronymus Bosch from mid-1503-1515. All the elements on the tapestry are taken from the painting, but rearranged. Now Eve and Adam are in the foreground. The snake sits in the adjacent tree and watches. The roles here seem reversed from the story; has Eve already seduced Adam here, has he fallen victim to her here? Or are we all actually direct and indirect victims of a story from one of the great world religions which has been very influential in role reversals in our society?
Photography: Gert Jan van Rooij for ‘Sending Thoughts and Prayers’, Museum W, Weert