Suspicious Marble (Omphale) represents a melding of the two main areas of Hazewinkel's creative practice, photography and sculpture, and his interest in the contemporary social relevance of ancient objects, stories and archetypes. This large leather curtain reinterprets two small 19th century photographs that represent a little-known woman from Antiquity who resonates with considerable contemporary social relevance. The identity of the artwork's photographic subject can be identified only by the fact that she is represented with the classical attributes of Herakles. Here we encounter Omphale a powerful Lydian queen who continued to rule her Asia Minor kingdom following the death of her husband. Although little is known of this mysterious woman most of what is known comes down to us through Greek mythology. In the Greco-Roman tradition the story most associated with Omphale involves Herakles, his enslavement to her and the exchange of their garments and gendered roles. The ancient narrative proposes that having murdered his friend Iphitos, Herakles was enslaved to Omphale for three years to atone for his blood crime. The plot continues to thicken. The story states that a condition of Omphale’s was that the hyper-masculine Herakles wear only women’s clothes for the period of his atonement and remain at her court spinning wool, while she wearing his lion-skin takes his olive-wood club and engages in men’s activities such as hunting. Concurrent with the issues of power, gender, and the fluidity of gender-based identity (which for Hazewinkel forms the basis of the contemporary social relevance of the narrative), Suspicious Marble (Omphale) represents the artist's ongoing investigation into the relationships between materials, the body and remembering. The archival images used in creating this artwork depict a representation in stone of soft human skin around which is draped the skin of another animal. Enlarging the images to approximate human proportion and by printing them onto animal hides Hazewinkel sets up a theoretical framework for considering how materials make meaning and the role that our bodies play in apprehending that meaning.
The images used in the creation of Suspicious Marble (Omphale) are drawn from a file cataloged as Suspicious Fakes and Forgeries in the John Marshall Photographic Collection at the British School at Rome Archives.