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About the EVIL EYE HANDS PROJECT, 2013-2014
Forked Animal is an artistic collaboration between Katie Gravestock and Matthew Budden. The Evil Eye Hands project was an exploration of three hand gestures (the horned hand, the open hand, and the fig hand) that have been used for hundreds of years and across many cultures to ward off the Evil Eye.
The idea behind our Evil Eye Hands project was to turn the gesturing hand into a kind of living amulet. Something visually arresting, "distracting" enough that it met our imagined criteria for warding off the Evil Eye. There are about thirty Evil Eye Hand images in the project as a whole.
The Evil Eye is the belief that a person can inflict injury with a glance. It is attributed to envy, and the person or thing being envied is its victim. Those who fall victim to the curse of the Evil Eye may experience a range of symptoms, including misfortune, crop losses, famine, sickness, mental illness, and even death.
Protecting one's self, family and livestock from the Evil Eye is of utmost importance in societies where the belief is held. Protection can take two forms, hand gestures and amulets that depict these hand gestures. A hand gesture can be made quickly to protect one’s self against a possessor of the Evil Eye, since the first glance is the most dangerous. In either case, amulets and the hand gestures protect by diverting the harmful glance of the Evil Eye away from the intended victim.
The horned hand symbolizes the head of a horned animal, which was believed to be able to pierce the evil eye and render it powerless. The horned hand also connotes the sign of the Devil, as well as the hanged murderer's Hand of Glory.
The open hand gesture is simply made by extending the arm with an open hand in a decisive manner that might be seen as offensive, protective, and disrespectful.
The fig hand is a gesture that represents the fruit of the fig tree and the phallus inside the vagina. It is meant to excite the possessor of the Evil Eye, causing them to become too distracted to proceed with their curse. And since one of the symptoms of the Evil Eye is a drying up of liquids, this gesture is also symbolic of the phallus seeking moisture within the vagina.
The hands were decorated using a variety of materials we'd decide on before a session. Almost every ingredient in the kitchen found its way onto a hand at some point, as well as flower petals, leaves, reeds, dirt, feathers, fruit rinds, and seaweeds. Powdered pigments and cheap gouache were also used.
Matthew Budden: firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Gravestock: email@example.com