Prison of Love. Cultural Narratives about Gender Violence

31 march, 2005 - 11 june, 2005
Sabatini Building, Auditorium
Berta Sichel and Virginia Villaplana; Violence without Bodies: Remedios Zafra
Frederic Wiseman. Domestic Violence, 2001
Frederic Wiseman. Domestic Violence, 2001

As with other novels of love, medieval or not, in Prison of Love, physical love is connected with violence. With more than thirty editions in Spanish and translated into a number of European languages, this medieval bestseller emphasises ‘paternal law’, i.e., the literal meaning of patriarchy. Ignoring the pleas of his family and the court, the king imprisons his daughter Laureola, “ready to enforce the cruelest sentence for her as her actions were cause for dishonor”. Within the context of contemporary feminism, the patriarchal system is not restricted to the father-daughter relationship. The first wave of feminism amplified its description according to Kate Millet (St. Paul, 1934) to ‘male domination’, i.e., to any instance of male control over a woman. In the third wave, feminists broadened Millet’s definition even more and criticised her ‘reductionism’, underscoring the fact that the same type of framework could be applied to any gender relationship, including homosexual relationships.

Two months before the inauguration of Prison of Love at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, congress approved the Spanish law against gender violence. It remains to be seen what the real consequences will be. It also remains to be seen if women who are dealing with violence by men - or by their partners - and need to turn to the legal system to report their aggressors, will be able to do so. This project is dedicated to all of those women.