Brittany Hill Lecture Review #2

Brittany Hill

Contemporary Art

Lecture Review- Amelia Jones

Amelia Jones from McGill University presented her lecture titled “Queer Feminist Durationality: The Trace of the Subject in Contemporary Art” which outlines a small portion of her book. In general, she explores the idea of identity in visual arts, specifically focusing on the underrepresented queer culture and how it has evolved from a traditional feminist lens. Some main topics she discusses is how fetishism reflects representation of gender and identity, and the open ended process of identification versus identity.

The first piece she explores is Valie Export’s photograph titled Genital Panic (1969). Jones introduces her feminist visual theory that is rooted in fetishism. In the black and white photo, a woman with teased hair and dressed in leather, sits with her legs spread, exposing her crotch to the viewer. Unlike previous work, she is not portraying a fixed identity, but a more vulnerable side of feminism.

Another piece that Jones analyzes is Tee Corinne’s Yantras of Womanlove #40 (1982). With this work she introduces the idea of “cunt art” which originated in the 1970’s during the feminist movement. This art movement allowed the artists to “play inside fetishism” and transform the female body into an object.

Another theme that embodies Jones’ theory of the queer feminist durationality is the idea of intersectionality. She states that certain aspects of one’s identity, such as sexuality and gender, can only be imagined through other identifiers. It is also expressed as an ongoing process that does not want to be identified in binaries, but needs to be identified as unidentifiable

A key strategy in this art movement is using the female genitalia. Exposing it in a brash and bold manner makes viewers uncomfortable. It still holds an enormous shock value in our society. In the piece Slit of Paint (1994) by Mira Schor, a large canvas is covered with a fleshy colored paint, layered up. In the center a slit is opened through the thick flesh layers exposing a red interior with a bright semicolon. For a female viewing the piece, Jones speculates that there is a sensual aspect of imagining the touch of the paintbrush, but there is also a woundedness that is subtly communicated. The semicolon embodies a social and political presence in the piece that can speak to several feminist ideas.

Jones transitions into talking about Paul Donald’s work titled Gating Guns, which features queer representations of the male figure. Donald’s sculptors represent flaccid figures, which invoke images of both worms and guns. The forms themselves are sagging and dripping, symbolizing incompetence, but the medium itself is hard. She argues that they are ultimately failures- flaccid in concept and masculinity.

During Jone’s dense lecture, she explains that identity in the visual arts can take many forms, especially when exploring the complicated queer notions of identification. By taking into consideration the aspect of fetishism in art, and binaries regarding gender and sexuality, we can truly begin to understand the representation of identify in art and society. By also examining work with the Queer Feminist Durationality in mind, we can better understand the theory of a new and modern feminism.

One Response

  1. I too went to her lecture, and I got almost the same reading as you. I liked how you described her lecture as “dense,” because that is exactly how it was. There was a lot to take in during her presentation and lot of arguments with examples given. I think you did a great job summarizing what she was saying, considering it was difficult to fully grasp her argument. Nice paper!

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