Amelia Jones: Queer Feminist Durationality

Queer Feminist Durationality: Amelia Jones

On Tuesday, April 17, I attended Amelia Jones’ lecture on the subject of her new thesis about Queer Feminist Durationality.  It was a very provocative lecture, which gave me some insight on how to look at feminist art.  The lecture itself was a little difficult for me to follow, because she was just reading off of a paper she had already wrote, so in consequence she spoke pretty fast.  However, the work she was showing and some of the quotations displayed under the work helped me follow what she was trying to get across a little better.  I am not an art major so some of the concepts were completely over my head, but overall I enjoyed listening what she had to say.

Amelia started off her lecture with showing some of the work of Valie Export.  The work was called Genital Panic, and it was a series of photographs of the artist in a huge fake wig, sitting down, with her legs spread wide open.  The artist was also holding a gun, striking a pose that suggested the viewer to focus between her legs. This was a very strong image that to me suggested the attitude of the Feminist Movement that was about to take place.  Amelia stated that this image “Opens radical rationality through a hostile.”  What I take from this statement is that this photograph is making a rational statement via hostile imagery.  There is nothing discrete about this photo, and yet all vulnerability is present.  She has her legs spread which make her seem vulnerable, but the hostile nature of the picture can’t be denied wither with the gun, and one could even argue that the wig is hostile.  Over all I think it was one of my favorite feminist works shown, because it was probably the mildest of the lecture.

One section I will briefly talk about is this notion of “cunt art” in feminist pieces.  Amelia kept bringing up this idea of fetishism with the female body inside western culture.  Amelia then stated that one of the points of Feminist art is to play around with the idea of feminism.  It seems to me that these different ways of depicting the female sex is one aspect of imaging feminism, though should not be the only way.  In the later part of the lecture there were some artists that had a very unique way of looking at this subject.  One artist that fell under the category of “cunt art” that made an impact on me was Mira Schor.  This piece was made in 1994, and it is an extremely simple, less detailed image of the female sex.  It is pretty much a split on a beige backdrop.  Inside the spit, there is a semicolon which further suggests the female sex.  What separated this piece from the other artists under the “cunt art” movement was the simplicity of the piece.  Amelia states that feminist “cunt art” opens a hole in fetishism with its specializing structure of objectification.  In Mira Schor’s piece, the painting can be considered fetishism because it does portray the female sex.  The way the artist plays with the object was striking because she made a semicolon do the detail for her, which when left to the imagination of the viewer; it does all the work it needs to.

The final aspect of the lecture that I wanted to discuss was the photographer named Catherine Opie, because I can’t get her work out of my head.  Her portrait titled Pervert really stuck with me, because it offered a violent inside look into the feminist world.  Opie is topless with a leather mask covering her face, and needles are pierced throughout both of her arms.  On her chest is the word pervert scratched or branded into her skin, and the reader can read the word because her blood is what forms the image.  This was a more violent way to express feminism than the other artists had offered.  The object was either the word or the Opie herself, and the violence of the image is what strikes the viewer to not look away.  This image is a complex identification that opens out temporal relations with the viewer, something that Jones had elaborated on.  In this image, there is no simple context to put this portrait under.  The complexity of her identity is imbedded in her pain, her blindness, and her perverted nature of the image.  Overall it was a striking image, but striking in a good way.  It is good to feel uncomfortable sometimes when viewing new works of art.

Overall I enjoyed the lecture and learned a lot about a subject I had known next to nothing about before I attended the lecture.  Amelia Jones is a bright artist/professor and it was good stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing something new.  I look forward to researching more about feminist art and possibly looking deeper into Amelia’s new book that was just released this week.

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