THE ORIGINAL RIOT
For their first solo museum exhibition in the United States, Wynnie Mynerva (b. 1992, Lima, Peru) will develop a site-specific installation occupying the New Museum’s Lobby Gallery. Expanding on their practice of creating liberating, new mythologies that reject patriarchy and binarism, Mynerva will reimagine the Biblical stories of Eve and Lilith, proposing a new version of a fundamental myth in Abrahamic traditions. For this newly commissioned project, Mynerva will create the largest painting ever shown at the New Museum as well as a sculpture made from their own Adam’s rib, which they have had surgically extracted for this purpose .
Born in Villa El Salvador on the outskirts of Lima, Mynerva grew up in an environment where violence based on gender, sexuality, race, and social class was extremely prevalent. Responding to both their traumas and desires, Mynerva creates cathartic visions of revenge and emancipation—representations of a world in which sexual dissidence would be praised as powerful political action. Their large-scale, colorful paintings depict bodies that hover on the edge of abstraction, refusing to be defined, categorized, consumed, or controlled. Their radical performances and body modifications posit sexual transgression as a path to social transformation.
In their New Museum exhibition, Mynerva reimagines the foundational story of all Abrahamic religions—that God created Adam, the first man, from clay, and then created his wife Eve from Adam’s rib —and retools this narrative hat has been used for millennia to regulate bodies according to binary and arbitrary gender designations. Into this myth, Mynerva inserts Lilith, an ancestral female figure from Mesopotamian and Judaic mythologies sometimes referred to as the first she-demon and other times as the first woman, who would have been created from clay.
In the largest painting ever shown at the New Museum, Mynerva will depict an encounter between Eve and Lilith, the first insubordinate alliance between feminized bodies. The work represents a scene in which Eve gives Lillith the lowest rib out of her own body, commonly called the “Adam’s rib,” as a token of their bond. Drawing on her practice in body modification, Mynerva will also present a sculptural element created from one of their own surgically removed “Adam’s rib,” forming a fossil or relic that acts as proof of this encounter between Eve and Lilith. With “The Original Riot,” Mynerva offers a narrative that might inspire other non-cis-male bodies to fight collectively for their freedom.
“Wynnie Mynerva: The Original Riot” is curated by Bernardo Mosqueira, ISLAA Curatorial Fellow.
View of the installation at New Museum, USA.
Oil on fabric, 2103,08 x 320 cm, 2023.