Thursday, 28 June 2007

FEMINISM AND PHOTOGRAPHY



Despite their diversity, these artists have all succeeded in overcoming some formidable obstacles. They only invented the feminist side using photographic images, we need to popularise it.
By Fatmir Terziu
The photography of female is going to be an interesting side everyday. It can be said that feminism and photography have created a strong relationship between them. Berger in his book Ways of Seeing said that "men look at women and women watch themselves being looked at" which concludes that this determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. Barthes described it as the "polysemic aspect" of the photographic image. Simone de Beauvoir when produced her monumental study of women's estate saw as "constitutive of feminity within patriarchy" and explained that "concept of feminity and masculinity may be a function of discourse and not of biology", while the former is "inevitably" positioned as other and the latter "invariably" as the one. Abigal Solomom - Godeau goes further in this point when said that "Otherness is celebrated and valorised, or perceived as a structure of oppression and subjugation".
However the theorist's explained it in many ways this theory becomes more debatable and more questionable. If they explored that "the language asserts the primacy of the masculine term" and what Godeau said "ifthe women have historically accepted is that of the man, and if language and image are already marked by that view" is already the main question of that "how and in what terms can the Other become the One?". De Beauvoir's point on "the analysis of the concept of sexual difference" lead Abigal Solomon-Godeau's investigation focuses on how this difference comes "into being", and "women from language" and, indeed, from all the symbolic systems in which a culture's reality is represented. And the final De Beauvoir's argument about "the act of specifying a condition of feminity" is "language asserts the primacy of the masculine term".
Using the terms such as "masculine," "feminine," "man," "woman", is another critical point for Godeau in terms of forcing them for any assumption. He argues that the concept of a unitary and unified identity, has itself been jettisoned, psychoanalysis having been the first and perhaps most important discipline to do so. Godeau pointed his critics on this concept and said that Bob Dylan may confidently invoke those attributes conventionally descriptive of woman (what she is like), but the impulse of most modern thought is to insist precisely on its nondeterminacy. As such, attention is focused on the production of the subjectivity, and the production of the meaning.
One useful question raised by the debates around photographic images of women is how we differentiate a feminist political opposition to these images from a more traditional revulsion at the portrayal of aspects of the body that are normally kept hidden from public view. In terms of logical consequence to the recognition that sexuality and desire, subjectivity and meaning are all constructed in language, Godeau gives as example Jacques Lacan's infamous statement that woman does not exist (La femme elle n'existe pas). On this argument leads Godeau's comment "any conceptualisation of the "real" woman is logically both unknowable and unspeakable. Whatever, Laman's statement is: human beings become perceived and represented as objects.
In prefacing a discussion of the photographic work of Francesca Woodman, Godeau's argument is that Woodman's work announces neither a manifestly political agenda nor a specifically feminist orientation. Woodman's photography are serially conceived, themes and motives circulate, are elaborated, modified and reworked. Her work bears cryptic texts and shards of narrative or description. Woodman's three themes explored by Godeau are: First, staging of herself as the model for herself, (the artist), second, the constant insistence on the woman's body as both as sight (a spectacle) and a site (of meaning, desire, projection) and last as she appears to have grasped, and taken as the very substance of her work, the operations of fetishism as they are mobilised in the metamorphosis of female flesh into image (fetishism).
Godeau said that there is a sense in which all three of Woodman's themes are integrally related, indivisibly bound. Looking and arresting the looking produce her pictures, like those of any photographer. In placing herself, her body, in front of the lens, Woodman does in fact collapse the distinction between seer and seen, subject of the gaze and object of it, artist and model. The power of Woodman's images, their intensity and their beauty, does not in any case derive from their compatibility with theoretical ideas. Woodman's images in fact are focused on the woman's eyes and trying to reconstruct what a man sees. Mulvey contended that the male is unconsciously reminded of the traumatic moment when he recognised sexual difference.
Question's raise from many of the angles of looking at Woodman's images: "Do women see differently, be it as artists or spectators?". Godeau called "psychological delineation" what Woodman was adapting to her purposes a device shared by artists as dissimilar as Cindy Sherman, Les Krims, Nancy Dwyer, and Hannah Wilke. By staging her body in ways that appear deliberately calculated both to generate and emphasize what Laura Mulvey termed is "to-be-looked-at-ness" or what Godeau called "disturbance in the field" that Woodman creates by girding the torso with three garter belts instead of one, by suspending superfluous stockings from the wall. A Freudian approach considers the visual pleasure or scopophilia' is usually understood as an erotic pleasure gained in looking at another person or at images of other bodies. This pleasure is voyeuristic when it is dependent on the object of this gaze being unaware, not looking back.
Whether the gaze at the body provoked by Woodman's pictures is inflected narcissistically, voyeuristically, or fetishistically, the nature of that look must inevitably determine the meaning the spectator imputes to it. It is interesting in this context to compare Kruger's work, which attempts to direct her work to female spectator along the axis of language. According to Godeau, in contrast to Kruger's unmistakable stance, Woodman's production in general stages no act or defiant, provides meliorative construction.
Despite their diversity, these artists have all succeeded in overcoming some formidable obstacles. They only invented the feminist side using photographic images, we need to popularise it.


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