Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Laughing Seriously

But the most general articulation of the problem of the relation of women to the law has been set out by Luce Irigaray. In Irigaray's view, women start in an impossible position. "Women are in a position of exclusion... Man's discourse, inasmuch as it sets forth the law... [knows] what there is to know about that exclusion." The exclusion of women is "internal to an order from which nothing escapes: the order of (man's) discourse." it is futile to imagine that, from a pocket within man's discourse -- for instance, from within the legal system -- women can substitute feminine power for masculine power: while seeming to be a reversal, this "phallic 'seizure of power" would leave women still "caught up in the economy of the same." "There is no simple manageable way to leap to the outside of phallogocentrism, nor any possible way to situate oneself there [on the outside], that would result from the simple fact of being a woman." Man's discourse can be taken over only via the path of "mimicry." Unless the woman's utterances are to remain "unintelligible" according to the code in force," they must be "borrowed from a model that leaves [her] sex aside."

All of which does not mean, however, that the law, as part of the discourse of the masculine imaginary, has to remain a closed and forbidden book. On the contrary, once a women has reconnoitered it and demarcated its "outside," she can situate herself with respect to it as a woman, "implicated in it and at the same time exceeding its limits." But her implication in it cannot be taken with unequivocal seriousness. To inhabit the male imaginary seriously is to commit herself to a simple reversal of power, to fall back into "the economy of the same."

To Irigaray, feminism and jurisprudence are thus not incompatible. But a feminist jurisprudence that is not ludic, that in return for access to the law concedes the claim of the law to its dignity and respects that dignity, by that concession gives up its independence. "Isn't laughter the first form of liberation from a secular oppression? Isn't the phallic tantamount to the seriousness of meaning?" "To escape from a pure and simple reversal of the masculine position means... not to forget to laugh."
Quoted from: J.M Coetzee, Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship, (Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press, 1996) pp. 27 - 8.

All quotes and references from: Luce Irigaray, This Sex which is not One, trans. Catherine Porter with Caroline Burke (Ithaca, N.Y. Cornell University Press, 1985).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Keeping abreast

Although done sporadically, there are a few things we like to bring to our own, and your, attention (aka FYI):



Sunday, December 19, 2010

...special understandings of commonness...

off-the-cuff translation...

the translation of specialness and commonness... 

the words in the diagrams above here have been extracted from the racing section of a recent pamphlet...

...my poppa would say, 'I've won some money on the gee gees' and then we would go second-hand book shopping...

the etymology of gee harks back to the command 'go!'...it is a word for horse found in the midst of childhood...

...from whence are we translating and to where are we etymologically racing, fixing the odds, financing, persuading, walking, leisurely inviting the wreath to be lowered to miss the neck or coil there magnetically...?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Accurate Fictions of Self: Glimpses of Photographer J.L.Buckland

Coming Through the Rye, c. 1897. (Akaroa Museum)

Jessie Buckland at the window of her Akoroa studio. c.1907. (Macmillan Brown Library)

Jessie Buckland (1878-1939) is notable as one of the few solo and recognised woman photographers of her time in New Zealand. Taught by her aunt Bessie Hocken, she learnt photography alongside her siblings in Dunedin. Buckland continued her practice winning acclaim for her photographs in competitions in Australasia and had a successful professional studio in Akaroa for 30 years after moving there in 1902. From reading one of the few texts about her life and work, Vickie Hearnshaw locates Buckland as a feminist and an individualist within the male-dominated feild of photography. Reading between the lines of this text, I got a sense of closeted conjecture about Buckland's sexual orientation. Buckland never married, but whether she was a lesbian is a purely anecdotal speculation on my behalf. That aside, for me the most compelling aspect of Buckland's work is the strength of the gendered, humorous tongue-in-cheek content visually articulated in some of Buckland's early non-commercial photographic work (perhaps amongst her best) within the context of a male-dominated field at the turn of the century.
Jessie Buckland follows the recognised pattern of early women photographers. She was self taught, working initially in comparative isolation, in association with her family. In her choice of subject matter, she relied almost exclusively on her immediate surroundings and its people: first, the Strath Taieri region in Otago, and after 1902, Banks Peninsula in Canterbury. (p.42)
In 'Coming through the Rye' Jessie, as the man, and Ina Burnett, her friend and neighbour, as the woman, pause momentarily in a field of sun-ripened grain, before the craggy peaks. The activity of 'picture making' as opposed to 'picture taking' was an important part of the whole process, with much time spent in the planning stages of each photograph. An idea had to be thought up, then suitable costumes organised and poses rehearsed with all the camaraderie of an amateur theatrical performance. For the successful outcome, Jessie was reliant on the co-operation of her family for technical assistance. In many cases, after setting up the scene, Jessie would have a 'helper', another member of the family, to release the button, as in 'Coming through the Rye' where Jessie was also a protagonist in the scene. (p.45)
In a carefully composed study of Buckland dating from this period, we glimpse her standing at the open window of her studio, a hand some woman, one who commands our attention. She holds a wooden plate bolder in her right hand as an attribute of her chosen profession. In her dress she reveals her preference was for the less restrictive code adopted by the progressive woman of the period. Older Akaroa residents' most frequent memory of Buckland is of her cycling to and from her borne to the studio, an image consistent with the 'new woman' of the turn of the century. (p.51)

Above excerpts and images from Vickie Hearnshaw 'A Study in Black and White: The Life and Work of Photographer Jessie Buckland'. Women's Studies Journal vol. 13. no. 1 Autumn (1997). Apologies these bad photocopied images sadly don't do her work justice. The Hocken and Akaroa museums hold much of her work but McMillian Brown does have some images for viewing online here.

Rachel, despite the slight difference in age/era from what I can tell, perhaps Buckland is a little like Beatrice? Behind and in-front of the camera at the same time?

In light of Barthes, Hito, Maljkovic, Beatrice, Buckland's collaborative procedures, and our current paradigm of working collaboratively on this project, what does it take to make a picture? create an image? stage a set?

Four Stages of Construction of the Eiffel Tower. Henry Guttmann/Getty.

Clare Noonan, Portrait Card (2009)

Friday, December 10, 2010

An oddly affectionate gesture

We're all wondering what's up with the nipple pinching right? The following provides a  rundown of the provenance of this ol' painting from the curators at the Louvre:

Gabrielle d'Estrées and One of Her Sisters, unattributed, c. 1594, Oil on panel, H. 0.96 m; W. 1.25 m. Louvre, Paris.

"The candid gesture may be an allusion to Gabrielle's pregnancy and the birth in 1594 of César de Vendôme, the illegitimate son of Henry IV.

... Although very much in the style of the second school of Fontainebleau, this work remains anonymous. It shows the influence of Italian Renaissance art in the sensual contours of the bodies of the two young women, but also contains references to Flemish art, such as the intimacy of the background scene.

Italian influence: The trompe-l'oeil technique
The artist has made skillful use of the trompe-l'oeil technique, using an imitative, realistic style for on the sheet in the bath and the two curtains framing the scene. The trompe-l'oeil effect is accentuated by the view of what is taking place in the background room. Richly colored, unsettling in its presentation of two women in their bath, and mysterious in its use of symbol - the ring being shown by Gabrielle d'Estrées, for example - the sensuality of the painting made it a popular success. Sensuous yet marvelously delicate, the contours of the two naked bodies are highlighted by the lighting of the two women from the left and the contrast with the shadowy background.

An oddly affectionate gesture
The models have been identified as Gabrielle d'Estrées (1571-99), the favorite of Henry IV (1553-1610), and one of her sisters: the Duchess de Villars or Madame de Balagny. The oddly affectionate way in which the sister is pinching Gabrielle d'Estrées' right breast has often been taken as symbolizing the latter's pregnancy with the illegitimate child of Henry IV. This interpretation would seem to be confirmed by the scene of the young woman sewing - perhaps preparing a layette for the coming child - in the background. The picture was acquired by the Louvre in 1937".

The Louvre website, retrieved on 8 December 2010

And that ol' term for a picture within a picture:

Las Meninas, DiegoVelázquez. 1656, Oil on canvas, 318 cm × 276 cm (125.2 in × 108.7 in), Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Mise-en-abyme: Literally, "placement en abyme," where "en abîme" itself refers to the habit of representing a small shield inside a larger one in traditional heralds and coats-of-arms. This device is often part of the text's self-reflexivity. By extension, most any "story-within-a-story" situations can be called an example of mise-en-abyme. The device is especially common in modern literature, television and films, but it occasionally appears in art.
The Literary Link, retrieved on 8 December 2010

And while we're at it:

mise en scène |ˌmēz ˌä n ˈsen|
noun [usu. in sing. ]
the arrangement of scenery and stage properties in a play.
• the setting or surroundings of an event or action.
ORIGIN French, literally ‘putting on stage.’

Putting on stage...behind the scenes...to infinity...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

possible rib-on solution

ok Homos, it's starting to heat up and sweat down here in the cold summer of Wellington.

I have some opening celebration light-box adornment specs for you:

At a very reasonable $$$$ of 55 NZD per 300 m rolls (2x rolls reqd) we, All the Cunning Stunts could have our very own GAY SHROUD safety-as tape to enclose our boxes of light!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (spray paint of yellow (+labour) provided - some pink but more is xtra purchase)


other options include: (reqd=50m)
xmas tinsel at $2-4 per m depending on size
feather boa in gawdy colours at $3 m
acrylic lining at $8 m split in four and re-sewed for a 50 m length

SO all approx coming in @ 100+ dollars

Eve is searching for spare safety tape around WCC, but we need to move on this asap as if we go the first option safety shop need to order the tape in, 2 working days delivery

All other ideas WELCOME ASxxxx

Monday, December 6, 2010



emancipation in four dimensions

Female same-sex experience is a powerful lens through which to seek out the parameters of contemporary emancipation.

How might the practice of making art enable individuals and groups to seek out, understand or catalyse contemporary modes of emancipation? Each light box in All the Cunning Stunts is a working through and an instance of this question as art practice.

When my friend [ ] saw light box pair [14/15] she said ‘there’s a safari in Courtenay Place and I’m invited.’

A street-level safari involves hunting, hiding, looking, wearing camouflage, distracting and being distracted by the extraordinary, or something that stands out, or just the strangeness of the ordinary – the things we take for granted, that we want, or need to own, buy, sell, hold, touch, and believe in.

In these works emancipation resides in a resolve to find alternatives to all-purpose philosophies, behaviours, voices, despotic sub-clauses, even colourful and persuasive bureaucracies that substitute their own Modus operandi in place of emancipation, while still working in its name.

In fact, objects and images in these light boxes work as depots in which voices jostle for attention, sometimes in alignment, in altercation, in curiosity and more often than not in rigorous party-mode.

The traces and out-loud splashes of everyday hedonism reveal emancipation to be always up ahead, in effect celebrating without us. We can’t possibly shake emancipation’s hand, congratulate it on a good year or, as advertising would have us believe, bask in its ‘Out now’ status.

All the Cunning Stunts validates a second look at hedonism because the works readily acknowledge that emancipation is not a place, just as Courtenay Place is not strictly a safari, it merely prompts the conditions of life to make an appearance, to dance, to reveal spectacular fallibility and unbelievable nuance.

The 16 light boxes can further be read as one undulating work. All the Cunning Stunts uses the knowledge and practice of four individuals to track what it is like to ride in the wake of an emancipation that can’t be seen, or even accurately imagined, translated or put to trial, but that is a condition for the perception, declaration and artful practice of everyday extraordinary communal, if not common, life.

What can be said of All the Cunning Stunts is that emancipation is very much something that we are able to play ball with through the practice of art.