A MAIDEN STILL LESS
LAUREL JAY CARPENTER
“A Maiden Still Less” is based entirely on site-specific research at Schloss Salem Abbey/Palace and the Lake Constance region in Germany, and was performed for three and a half hours in the waterway in front of the palace. Down below in the moat’s rushing current, a woman wears a bright white dress festooned with 40 archivist gloves. In each glove, weighing her, is a stone; thirteen of the stones are gilded gold. Walking at an indiscernible pace, the woman releases and excruciatingly slowly drops each stone in the water.
“A Maiden Still Less” conflates the artist’s fascination with materiality, time and presence—fascinations historically shared by the resident Cistercian monks themselves. The monks’ daily practice of devotion is the starting point for the piece. From there the artist applies a feminist perspective to reveal the darker history of witch persecutions of the Early Modern Period that extended to any wise or brave, and therefore outcast, woman. The title of the piece, “A Maiden Still Less,” is adopted from a record of those locally convicted and burned for witchcraft, unnamed: “…the apothecary’s wife and daughter. The prettiest girl in town, aged 19. Four strange women found sleeping in the marketplace. A little maiden, nine years of age. A maiden still less.” The title also refers to the age and experience of the woman presented here, strengthened now, able to release the burden, no longer an innocent maiden. A trail of stones—both invisible and glinting gold on the dark riverbed—remain as markers after the woman disappears into a shadowy underground channel.