by Anya Roz
Thoughts on the process– Judith as a Pious Widow, Salomé the "exotic dancer"
Originally I planned this as a triptych of 3 famous biblical beheadings:
David, Judith and Salome
a boy with a head of a giant, a heroine with the head of an enemy and a whore with a head of a prophet
Judith is known as a pious widow– and sure, her actions can be interpreted as piety, but the image of mourning and chastity these words conjure up (at least in the modern mind) seem somewhat incongruent with her story. I see a woman who uses her sexuality as a weapon — to tempt, conquer and kill a man who has threatened her life and her city.
It is a trick of fragility and grace, lethal intent and immovable will. She does not ride into battle with her shield raised. She has no shield. her defense is her fancy clothes and her nakedness, her jewelry and perfume, her tenderness, her loving voice. Her weapon is her murderous secret.
Of course, "the daughter of herodias", possesses a great deal of sexual aptitude, and also uses it for murder. Except that her power is mercenary, given away to the highest bidder (and to her mother, too – how freudian) – while Judith uses hers on her own accord, and to a higher purpose. While Salome kills slyly, by proxy, Judith– goes into the battle naked, alone, and wins. Judith stakes her life and saves a city, Salome arouses a man to ask for a head of a saint on a platter.
paradoxically, the "pious widow" harnesses the power of her nakedness, while the "exotic dancer" seemingly exposed, conceals herself in safety of her family ties.
And just as compelling is the predatory stripper's innocence– she gives away both her power and her reward, and rather than receiving a kings ransom, plays into her mother's obscure political games, thus coming to personify ruthless sexual manipulation for centuries to come.
thus Salome, "the murderous whore" is in part, a guiless child on her mother's errand, and Judith turns both her piety and widowhood (read– experience) into ammunition.
a young woman, a jewish resistance fighter in lithuania (her name now escapes me) had walked into the town's german headquaters, posing as a local whore, coming in for a "date" with the schtunbanfurer (?). the guards let her in and left them alone. she shot him using his own gun, while flirting, walked out, disappearing back into the woods (a piouswidow? quite possibly)
stories of women under totalitarian regimes, exchanging sexual favours for death sentences are there too– though mostly brought up at a later age, and in accusation.