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Milu Correch’s mural for NuArt 2018

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When the population of North East Scotland was met by rough weather conditions and other unfortunate (though entirely natural) events, King James VI blamed witchcraft for their misfortune. [1] Since the 16th century was not necessarily famous for a strong understanding of science and high education among the general population, the public did not hesitate to believe his claims that supernatural forces were the reason for their suffering. His claims were backed by the Scottish Witchcraft Act of 1563, which had banned all instances of magic and led to mass trials and executions of suspected (and predominantly female) individuals.[2] After losing an attendant ship while transporting his wife home from Denmark, the widespread phobia of magic was only further strengthened.[3] This ship is referenced in one of the murals by Milu Correch, which she created for the 2018 NuArt festival in Aberdeen.

The mural shows two naked women with a blanket masking their heads. The woman on the right is holding a miniature boat. Correch used a dark and muted colour palate to create a sombre take on a serious subject. Instead of making the women stand out by forgoing to paint a background, Correch frames them in an indistinguishable dark space. Especially during the night, it is likely that a passer-by might not notice the women. This reflects the suppression and neglect of women and women’s rights throughout history that the artist is trying to highlight. The location of the mural furthermore adds to this neglect. Rather than being a display in a busy and openly location, the work can be found (or not found) in a small side street between night clubs.

The dehumanization and mistreatment of the alleged “witches” is supported by the blanket which is covering of the faces of the naked women. The viewers are unable to look at the women as anything other than objects, as they can only see their exposed bodies. The face- and voiceless women therefore become representative of the accused “witches”, who lost all their essential human rights the moment they became suspected of supernatural powers. The blanket also allows the viewer to look at the exposed women without having to face their gaze. The viewer is able to gaze and judge without facing consequences, just like the general public were judging the “witches” without having to fear any repercussions for their life-threatening accusations. The women in the mural, similar to the women in the 16th century, are left powerless and vulnerable.

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Correch’s work is uncomfortable and confronts the viewer with the rough reality of Scotland’s history. Her mural stands in contrast to many of the other NuArt artists like Bortusk Leer, who painted many small monsters throughout Aberdeen in an attempt to spread happiness and bring colour into an otherwise famously bland city. It succeeds at being a powerful and mature statement on the importance of fair trial and scientific proof, which remains relevant in a time where the credibility of science is often questioned (for example by the flat-earth and anti-vaccination movements).


1] https://2018.nuartaberdeen.co.uk/news/milu-correch/

[2] https://theculturetrip.com/europe/united-kingdom/scotland/articles/new-murals-spotlight-aberdeens-dark-history-of-witch-hunting/

[3] https://2018.nuartaberdeen.co.uk/news/milu-correch/

 

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One thought on “Milu Correch’s mural for NuArt 2018

  1. Indeed, what a serious piece, with many parallels to issues relating to women and their bodies throughout the history of art!

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