Goddess In Exile-The Eternal Return | Griselda Steiner | Scene4 Magazine-March 2020 | www.scene4.com


Griselda Steiner

“The crude product of nature, the object fashioned by the industry of man, acquire their identity only to the extent of their participation in a transcendent reality.”  “The Myth of the Eternal Return” Mircea Eliade


The following are the last scenes of my screenplay


In recent issues of Scene4 I presented a sequence of scenes from my screenplay, a fictionalized account of the brief life of Cuban born artist Ana Mendieta, that deals with themes of wife murder, the natural versus the man-made world and the mythic feminine. Ana Mendieta’s death at age 36 became a scandal that rocked the art world at its zenith making headlines. The screenplay adapts the basic story of her alleged murder by her husband, prominent minimalist artist Carl Andre, who was acquitted by a judge without a jury and explores the premise ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.  My character Elvira creates art that celebrates the divine feminine while her husband Hans arranges geometric forms in abstract spaces. The action takes place in the vivid milieu of the New York City art scene in the 1970's, capturing the excitement of the elite intelligentsia with character vignettes from the highest echelons of American artists and art world doyennes. 


These scenes end Elvira’s long journey that began with her exodus from her home in Peru to embracing the challenge of becoming a recognized artist in New York City, to her fateful marriage and later murder by her husband Hans.  In the previous scene he is acquitted by a jury. Despite her efforts to confront the patriarchs that supported Hans with the truth, Elvira’s best friend, Joanne, despairs.  Elvira’s work was just beginning to achieve status when she was invited to exhibit in the prestigious Biennale. When Joanne returns to her studio it is filled with crates that read, "VENICE BIENNALE - ELVIRA OLMOS' MEMORIAL EXHIBIT.”


Elvira’s body is returned to her home in the Andes Mountains from which she dug the clay that formed her work and whose vistas inspired her vision.


Today, when the cosmic battle between good and evil has taken center stage from the biological microcosm of disease to climate change, global politics and social justice, Elvira’s art that portrayed the divine feminine sends a message of compassion and balance that transcends the current dilemma.


In Joanne’s EULOGY she compares Elvira’s death to the demise of our planet.







SOUND of high-heeled footsteps climbing several steps.  The darkness is broken by the light of a candle JOANNE holds.  POV JOANNE, she lights ELVIRA'S studio door lock and unlocks it with her keys.  When she enters, JOANNE does not turn on the overhead light as the room is filled with a silver/blue light shed from a full moon hovering in the black sky outside the window.  The studio no longer looks like a vault of misted mummies, but a warehouse filled with crates.  JOANNE holds the candle to a label on one of the crates that read, "VENICE BIENALLE - ELVIRA OLMOS' MEMORIAL EXHIBIT."  JOANNE takes the candle and sits on the window ledge, blows it out and studies the moon.


CLOSE on the full moon.


ELVIRA'S (voice over)

I receive clay, tools and a Goddess body to turn into art. My art will live forever.


SOUND of Andean Flute music over.


SHOTS of the following chronicle ELVIRA'S art from her youth in Peru to her last works.  The moon casts shadows on her art.


ELVIRA’S early works are small primitive clay statutes of Mary in traditional frontal positions that reflect the style of church art in her country; Mary with shroud, halo and snakes at her feet.


Her first sculptures in New York City, some in clay, some in wood are more natural and experimental.  They are still of Mary, but interpretive of her as a universal mother goddess.  She created a Madonna bust with SISSY's black face and one of Mary holding Mary (the pieta).  ELVIRA also made studies of nude women.  These works were done in her lower East Side apartment, shown in the back room of the Third Eye Gallery and later kept on a shelf in her studio.


After moving into a studio in HANS' loft, ELVIRA made larger works in clay and wood. She sculpted a female torso on the tree that HANS cut for her in Kansas.  She made a small study of a pregnant woman. She created larger sculptures of female nudes with natural elements - tree branches, rocks and leaves.  These were exhibited in her solo show at the Coral Gallery.  She sculpted a large female Christ on a wood cross JOANNE uncovered in the first scene.  Smaller clay Goddess figures based on authentic South American goddesses are on the shelves.


After Elvira’s Ayahuasca induced vision on the Amazon, she created on-site goddess renderings of female forms drawn on rocks in natural settings. In her later work, she created large photographs of herself nude in on-site locations.


CLOSE shot of the Setting Sun viewed from ELVIRA'S gravesite on the Andes Mountains in Peru.



(voice over reading Eulogy)


When you, Elvira, died the earth died with you – your memory in the leaves of ancestral trees – your heart in the soil – your hands in the flowers you picked as a young girl scorched by the wild Andes sun.  The ice that fed water to the streams and rivers that kept your clay moist filled with your tears and flooded the mountainside engraving the scar of your body on the sloping rocks.  The waters poured into the ocean and chilled the volcanic fires in its depth.  Then the winds swept your black hair to the clouds that parted in a barren sky.


When you Elvira died, time died with you and fled into the midnight sky leaving swirling galaxies to trace your dancing feet to the shaman’s drum.  Your legs swept the earth’s plains of vast hordes of migrating animals to the cosmos and your mouth sucked in all the fishes of the sea and spit them to the stars.  Your arms arched with the flight of birds you flung in the shape of arrows in ascending scales of light and your face fell to the sun.  Now, your smile waxes and wanes as the light of the moon.


The earth our mother died that night with Elvira – the Goddess in Exile. We are left with nature’s grandmother – an old woman with gray skies – polluted clouds - stretching continent to continent pierced by satellite beams. An old woman – who continues to be raped by men who suck her sagging breasts of oil - blast her plains with war - and ocean floors with atomic bombs - destroy her forests and starve her wildlife.  The old woman weeps that she must seek revenge and shake us off.


Because one woman – one night was killed  - Because one woman – a spiritual woman – a Goddess - was killed one night by her husband who will go unpunished - our civilization is over.


There will be new stories – new myths born from the old, but we can now only remember in broad flashes of revelation, the passage that brought us to this end.



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Griselda Steiner is a poet, dramatist, a freelance writer and a Senior Writer for Scene4. She is the author of The Silent Power of Words. For more of her poetry and articles, check the Archives.

©2020 Griselda Steiner
©2020 Publication Scene4 Magazine




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