The Golden Cage
For this artwork, we were asked to take portions of the artworks of five of our favorite artists and create an adaptation in one painting. The artists I chose were Regina Jacobson, Briana Angelakis, Dan Quintana, Anna Tsvell, and Ali Cavanaugh.
I chose the golden cage as the central element in this picture because it’s decorative — meant for display. But it’s still a cage. Nothing changes that. The painting symbolizes wanting to break free from the opinions of others as well as one’s own mental barriers.
At first glance, it looks like there are only two people trapped inside the cage. But then we see that the other women surrounding the cage are preoccupied observing the people in the cage, when they could be living their own lives.
And then we realize we, the viewers of this painting are doing the same thing, and we play no active role in the picture. So we must be encaged as well. Unless you count interpretation as participation. But even our interpretation has parameters which are the elements in the painting.
The girl on the upper right corner resembles an apparition. If anyone is free in this painting, it must be the ghost, because ghosts can fly thru walls. But though a ghost may seem “invulnerable as the air” (De Grazia, 2008), a ghost is often believed to be trapped from the next life due to some unfinished business. In a sense, it is the most encaged entity in the picture, for her capacity to fly through walls and cages does nothing for her.
“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere it wants to, so long as it stays in the maze”. — Margaret Atwood
Why does it really matter who is inside the cage or who isn’t? Because it makes us reconsider where the cage really ends. This begs the question of whether we can really recognize freedom if we had it. In reality, we can choose not to pay attention to others’ opinions.
“People only get really interesting when they start to rattle the bars of their cages”
– Alain de Botton