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On December 21 the phenomenon of the solstice will take place. The darkest night of the year gives way to the rebirth of light. The shadows that this building will cast at noon on the winter solstice day will be the longest of the year.
The solstice is not something that is seen, but something that happens. Something similar with this fact is reflected in the word matronage; I think that a term closely linked to the historical idiosyncrasy of the building. This neologism is not recognized in its entirety by the main dictionaries. It is part, in a reduced way, of the vocabulary used in fields such as archeology, art and gender studies.
It is used to name the patronage processes that women have been developing within the arts and architecture, but from a gender perspective. For some authors like Roger Crum, the solution to the problem of the lack of visibility of female patronage would be in the use of the term matronage. Although other experts in these fields of study prefer to continue using the quintessential word patronage.
As Cándida Martínez López points out in “Amantissima civium suorum: matronazgo cívico en el occidente romano,” most of the stories of the cities have offered women only a vicarious identity, that is, they have had to recognize themselves in the memory of others , in the narration of others, losing the dynamism and historical changes produced by their actions.
This concept is not a feminist whim, it is a recognition of the processes that women promoters and patrons had to face and resolve and therefore a recognition of the cultural contribution they made. Contributions that are outside the definitions inherited from the androcentric linguistic legacy.
Mary Foote Henderson (1846-1931), developer of this building, played an active role in the development of 16th Street in the early 20th century. She wanted to promote the Beautiful City Movement with this and other buildings and developed real estate. She was also a patron, donor, sponsor and founder among several of her projects. She saw Washington, D.C. not as a commercial city, but as the capital of American culture. As a result, today we can enjoy her architectural legacy. The fact that Henderson perhaps had to compete as a woman of her day in a mans wordl can place us in different contexts depending on how the story is told.
With my intervention I wanted to celebrate this solar event. Placing in front of the doors a symbol of birth related to these dates gives rise to multiple interpretations. I am interested in the different readings of the image depending on the distance at which its details can be appreciated, since these will create new enigmas and associations with the viewer.
Just as the winter solstice needs shadows to prove its existence, the intervention aims to give visibility to the building from a gender perspective through the transformation and use of the symbol.