On Friday, December 3, feminist photo historian Abigail Solomon-Godeau will conduct a seminar around the theme “Fetishism, Femininity and Contemporary Art.”
Abigail Solomon-Godeau has made important contributions to the theoretical discourse around both feminist thought and photography history. She teaches at the University of California Santa Barbara. She is the author of Photography at the Dock: Essays on Photographic History, Institutions and Practices (1992) and Male Trouble: A Crisis in Representation (1997). Her essays, which have been frequently translated and anthologized, deal with feminism and art, contemporary art, photography, and nineteenth-century visual culture.
Feminist theorists and scholars have persuasively demonstrated how Freud’s concept of fetishism underpins and structures many forms of mass culture, advertising, and the visual arts, while Marxist scholars have long elaborated on Marx’s concept of commodity fetishism as presented in the first part of Capital. In many respects, the work of art can be seen to be inflected or shaped by both forms of fetishism. However, art work by modern and contemporary women artists, both before and after the re-emergence of feminism in the late 60s, could be said to collectively produce their own analyses, critiques, and subversions of the fetish character of art, of the commodity, and (hardly least) the fetishistic representation of femininity. This talk examines a number of these works by women artists that work to dismantle or denaturalize the very conventions that perpetuate fetishistic desire in both of its forms.
To prepare for the seminar, students are required to read Sigmund Freud’s essay “Fetishism” (1927) and Laura Mulvey, “Thoughts on Theories of Fetishism in the Context of Contemporary Culture”, October, vol. 65 (Summer 1993), pp. 3-20. These texts will be sent to all participants in advance of the seminar.
The seminar will take place at the University of Amsterdam, Oudemanhuispoort, room ek.01A from 2-4 p.m. There is only room for a limited number of participants; MA students can make a reservation via their teacher/local PMK contact.