I think the mantra at the time was ‘a radical aesthetics for a radical politics’ and that longstanding position, going back to the Soviet Union and so on, was, in a sense, intensified by the feminist aesthetic, which demanded that the image be politicized, and demanded that the relationship between the signifier and the signified be split, so that, in a sense, that feminist position reinforced the avant-gardist splitting of meaning, splitting of signification, questioning representation, questioning what the image referred to and so on.
Snakes & Ladders (2019. Daniel & Clara)
In her now famous essay ‘Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema’, Laura Mulvey deployed the psychoanalytic writings of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan to develop a feminist theory of spectatorship within narrative Hollywood Cinema. Drawing upon examples from the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Josef von Sternberg, Mulvey developed a highly influential account of the male gaze, whilst attempting to use the essay to disrupt and destroy the scopophilic pleasures of the narrative fiction film. Throughout her work, Laura Mulvey has woven together feminist and psychoanalytic analysis, avant-gardist aesthetic techniques and radical politics to disrupt the image. Her books Visual and Other Pleasures (1989), Death 24X a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image (2005), Afterimages: On Cinema, Women and Changing Times (2019) have continued this exploration of the cinematic image, whilst her films Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons (1974 with Peter Wollen), Riddles of the Sphinx (1977, with Peter Wollen) Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti (1983, with Peter Wollen), Disgraced Monuments (1991, with Mark Lewis) developed the essay as a film form whilst exploring avant-gardist themes and deploying avant-gardist techniques. In this session we will be joined by Laura Mulvey to discuss her work, themes relating to it and the politics of filmmaking for the future.