15 May - 9 June 2024



The word ‘Diva’ is often used to negatively describe a woman’s tone or attitude. Would you characterise a man’s behaviour or bearing in this manner?

Originally derived from the Latin word for goddess, ‘Diva’ emerged as a term specifically for the prima donna or leading lady of opera during the mid-19th century. By the mid-20th century, its usage expanded to encompass figures across various artistic domains including opera, theatre, cinema, fashion, and popular music. The term had, however, suffered slippage. Once deferential, it came to denote demanding, difficult and temperamental tendencies. At the root of this archetype, however, remain the qualities of ambition and assertiveness; attributes typically celebrated in men.

Distilling elements from the iconic album covers and personal style of modern divas, Lee Bethel constructs paper effigies that reframe the archetype and reinstate due reverence for the ‘difficult’ woman.