Independent Research

Re-codifying the Symbol of ‘Woman’ in Art


I recently started ‘following’ the blog of  Dr. Tina Kinsella.
I found an article on an exhibition by Treacy Emin,  located by the Tate Galleries at Turner Contemporary in Margate in 2012, alongside  works by Turner and Rodin. The exhibition was part of a journey for Emin,  a search for home and also a journey back to painting.  In essence this is a journey related to my own.  She was looking for a way to say what she wanted through painting and drawing again, rather than installation and object.  In work she is also re codifying the symbol of woman as an object of erotic love,  giving the representation of woman in art a different power. Artists through their  work have the capacity to see and think in a way which defies Western logic, we have the capacity to  shift the way people perceive and contemplate.

The artist in the matrixial dimension is a wit(h)ness with-out event incompassionate witnessing. The viewer, and this partially includes theartist in his or her unconscious viewer position, is the wit(h)ness parexcellence. The viewer will embrace traces of the event whiletransforming them … Beyond representation, s/he is carried by anevent that s/he did not necessarily experience, and through thematrixial web an unexpected transformation and reaction to that eventarises. That is why, I believe, aesthetic production already carries
ethical aspects, even without the artist’s consideration or will. Since it
is not an intended message or particular theme, the potential
embracing of the memory of oblivion cannot “just” be aesthetic.
Perhaps the idea of wit(h)ness-Thing is leading us towards atransformation of the scope of aesthetics itself. 
Bracha L. Ettinger, 2006, ‘Wit(h)nessing Trauma and the Matrixial Gaze’ in Masumi, B., ed., The Matrixial Borderspace. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p. 149.

The article is placed in the context of Bracha Ettinger’s work and her discoveries in both intellectual and practical aspects of her art practice and psychoanalytic practice collide and inform one another.

“The most graceful moments in the covenant between art and theory occur when theoretical elements, only indirectly or partly intended for particular works of art, and visual elements which refuse theory, collide. In doing so, they transform the borderline between the two domains so that art is momentarily touched by theory while theory takes on a new meaning” (Ettinger, 1993a, p. 38).

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