In ‘Fly through the candle’s mouth like a singeless moth’, Hicks explores the female position in contemporary society. The title is a line taken from Sylvia Plath’s 1959 poem Witch Burning, for Plath being ‘burnt at the stake’ is considered a metaphor for self-transformation.
Hicks is interested in the evolution of the witch archetype throughout history, and particularly the emergence of the witch as a symbol of female power and its association with the #metoo movement today. ‘Witch’ has been historically used as a tool to discredit and persecute women of power spanning from Joan of Arc and Anne Boleyn to, more recently, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Tony Abbott‘s ‘Ditch the Witch’ proclamation of Julia Gilliard.
We have seen an evolution from the witch trials of the early modern period, to the current popularity and commodification of all things witchery. The suffragists were the first to reclaim Joan of Arc as a symbol of female power and were instrumental in reframing the witch archetype. Today the witch is synonymous with feminism and is often seen as a symbol of empowerment.
Here Joan of Arc is rising from the ashes, questioning how much has changed today?
Documentation by Simon Strong.