April 21, 2004: SEX: A Visual Culture Faculty Colloquium
Featuring talks by Visual Culture faculty
"Desiring Shadow-Projections: Photography's Queer Origins" by Jill Casid
Casid will present work-in-progress from the concluding chapter of her latest book manuscript on technologies of projection. Casid's creative intervention in the archive recasts the origins of photography. In his Natural History, Pliny famously fleshes out the birth of representation. In the beginning was a young woman who traced the outlines of the cast shadow of her lover's face on the wall in order to counter impending absence with imagination. The retellings of this myth would have us believe that at the origin of representation itself was the flame of desire, and it was heterosexual. And, yet, there is a shadow to this story of flaming desire, obscure images, and illusive objects, a shaping negative, alost skiagraphic origin of photography in which the burning desire that sets the history in motion defies representation in terms of the heterosexual script but has not gone up in smoke. To counter this shaping absence in the historical record, Casid works with the obscure traces to imagine the missing scene of the queer origin of the photograph as one that recasts the inception of photography as a fetish or totem practice in which the desiring gaze of a woman refuses loss and lack by conjuring with the shadow of her love, tracing the queer subject of desire into view via her lover's shadow image.
"Screwing the System: Masculinities, Money and Commercial S/M" by Anne McClintock
This talk explores the contradictory realm of taboo and abjected masculinities in the clandestine world of commercial S/M (or Female Domination). Arguing that masculinities are contradictory social practices, unevenly situated with respect to power, McClintock explores the relation between masculinity, money and fetishism. Offering an alternative theory of fetishism, the paper argues that consensual S/M is a complex, contradictory and unstable theater of social risk. In consensual fetishism, participants engage in rituals of recognition, seeking witness to trauma, pain, pleasure or power and thereby seeking to gain control over traumatic and perilous memories. The paper focuses on questions of fetishism and money; abjected, humiliated, or wounded masculinity; the dirt fetish; regimes of discipline and the right to punish; economic power; the male privilege of pleasures; body boundaries; theatrical reversals of power, however fleeting and temporary; and the violent policing of the social sub-culture of consensual fetishism.
"Erotic Fantasy and the Production of Utopia" by Michael Peterson