Evening lecture in the context of the ICI workshop ‘Reflecting on Images’, organised by Mimma Congedo (ICI Berlin).
As early as in the 1980s, some US-American and British artists, filmmakers and intellectuals – such as Lisa Tickner, Jacqueline Rose, Kate Linker, Victor Burgin, Craig Owens, Stephen Heath, Mary Kelly, Laura Mulvey, Martha Rose, Teresa de Lauretis, Kaja Silverman and others – focused on representation in their critique of processes naturalising social, gender and cultural/ethnical differences in society. However, while describing these processes, they used the term ‘representation’ slightly differently to its standard use in daily language, namely to address the social and economic as well as the psychic and imaginary content of images and words as the mediating agents constructing desire, individuals, subjectivity and social values. One could say that part of the concept of performativity developed by Judith Butler and of the relation between the imaginary and the real it describes was already defined in the concept of the processes of representation.
Working with this concept myself, I had also addressed the question of representation of (gendered) bodies in my early research. Thus, I tried to show in specific examples – hysteria and grace – that even body language is language and not nature. In my talk I will show how the concept of representation and the agreement within feminist theoretical debates that there is no ‘natural (body) language’ may help to develop a critique towards some aspects of the recent concept of Bildwissenschaften (Visual Culture studies) of mainly German art historians, which re-naturalizes the body and re-ontologizes the ‘image’ as an anthropological concept.
Prof. Dr. Sigrid Schade studied art history, German studies and empirical cultural studies at the Universität Tübingen and the Warburg Institute at the University of London. She completed her doctoral studies with a dissertation on the portrayal of witches in the 16th century and habilitated at the Universität Oldenburg in the Department of Art History and Cultural Studies on ‘Körperbilder und ihre Lektüren. Studien zum Einsatz von Körpersprachen in Kunst und Fotografie des 16. bis 20. Jahrhunderts’. From 1994-2005, she was Professor of Cultural Studies and Aesthetic Theory in the Department of Cultural Studies at the Universität Bremen. In 2002, she was appointed head of the newly founded Institute for Cultural Studies at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste. As guest curator, Sigrid Schade has supervised exhibition projects and produced programs for various broadcasting stations (Österreichischer Rundfunk). Sigrid Schade’s areas of research include concepts of the body in the fine arts and photography during the 16th – 21st centuries; history of art institutions and the art scene; gender studies; contemporary artists; correlations between old and new media in art and mass culture; media, perception and retention theories; concepts and theory development of visual culture and cultural analysis.
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