The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune addresses the gender pay gap.

The history of the human race is also that of patriarchy, signifying and appropriating both the role and purpose of women in society. There is this “othering” that occurs throughout history where males become the default representatives of our species, rendering women as merely supplementary or incidental to a male existence. This perspective, reflected in and perpetuated by culture, religion, and language, finds itself in social fields and disciplines irrelevant to gender like the sciences and economics. Othering occurs precisely when a particular group of people are not allowed the status of being wholly human. The logic of relegating sections of our species to subhuman, or not wholly human is a fairly common one.

The structures that determine value based on gender are arbitrary.

To Illustrate the point at hand, one must delve into the history of the inequality against which women have fought this uphill battle often scaling the sheer cliff edges of edifice and calcified social practices. One must remember that at a certain point in history, women in some parts of the world were traded as property, alongside cattle. It is a very archaic form of objectification but its remnants still lurk under the surface of the male gaze. What really solidifies patriarchy is its insertion into the very essence of human expression.

Language is always already gendered. Our default has always been “he”. The omnipresent, omnipotent, and formless divine has always been a “He”. It has never been about some people treating women unfairly, the problem is the institutional nature of discrimination. Capitalism exists as a force capable of generating great economic liberation, extracting value out of even the most mundane of natural resources. It somehow finds its tongue forked when assigning value to what women have done for their households since the beginning of civilization. This perspective then extends and further distorts when women find themselves in the workforce.

The gendered underpinnings of all aspects of existence informs the structures of employment that women somehow deserve less for the exact amount of work as their male counterparts.

Incremental changes amount to paradigm shifts over time.

The battle towards a more equitable future has been hard fought. It was not until the men went off to war in the 20th century that women en-masse saw the insides of a factory, keeping the assembly lines going. The logic still was that they were keeping the machines warm for when men returned. This sparked something fundamental. Economic and political independence is the only path to complete subjecthood, something that was kept from women throughout history. Let us not be mistaken, this fight, as much as it is for equality, is about independence from the structures that condemn women to the margins.

The sculpture is a call to action for equal pay.

As a celebration of this ever glorious struggle and inspired by the work of Nobel Laureate Claudia Goldin, I created Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune. It is a stainless steel bull with arrows piercing through its body. The bull, which represents both physical and economic might, is transformed into a symbol of the systemic violence and oppression that women face. The currency signs from around the world that form the bull’s body serve as reminders to the economic disparities and inequalities that women are subjected to worldwide.

Piercing the body of the bull are red arrows, each a testament to the incremental but significant advancements made in the fight against discrimination and the gender pay gap. These arrows, vibrant against the metallic sheen of the bull, symbolise the wounds inflicted upon the seemingly invincible edifice of gender discrimination by women’s resilience and determination. They mark the efforts of those who challenge the status quo, who dare to speak against systemic biases, and who work tirelessly towards an equitable future.

The circle is not a barrier; it is a portal to a more equitable future.

The circular target that the bull charges towards represents the unified goal of achieving gender equality. This circle is not merely an endpoint but a symbol of continuity and unity—a reminder that the fight against gender inequality is ongoing, requiring collective effort and unwavering commitment. It signifies the world coming full circle to a point where gender no longer determines one’s economic value or opportunity.

Sculptor Sonal Ambani: Art Disrupts, Equality Unites.

Sculptor Sonal Ambani’s Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune” is being shown by the European Cultural Centre (ECC) at Palazzo Mora – Venice, Italy during the Venice Biennale from April 20th to November 24th, 2024