Andrew Hazewinkel, Omphale

Contemporary Art

Australian Sculpture and Photography

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Andrew Hazewinkel


56 X 39 CM

Ed 3 + 1 AP


Two overlapping exposures representing different perspectives of the same subject merge in the middle creating a commingled figure. The material subject of this photograph is a slightly smaller than life-size limestone head of a statue (c.500 BCE) representing either Omphale or Herakles. Very little is known of Omphale, she remains largely buried in history. What little we do know of Omphale comes down to us through Greek mythology in which she is identified as a powerful queen of the Lydian empire, and the slave owner of the symbolically hyper-masculine Herakles. The story of Herakles’ enslavement to Omphale centres on her insistence on an exchange of their garments and gendered roles wherein for the duration of the enslavement Herakles wears only women’s clothes and performs women’s work while Omphale wears his iconic lion skin, takes possession of his olive wood club and engages in typically male activities like hunting. Acquired in 1899, the head (Inv. 1738) is one of the earliest acquisitions of the National Archaeological Museum Athens. At the time of its accession it was catalogued as a representation of Omphale, since that time it continues to be variously attributed as both Herakles and Omphale.


Photographic permission courtesy National Archaeological Museum Athens