Self – subject and Michel Foucault

”Even the very formation of the self is social construct: one becomes a subject when one learns to say ‘I’ – Lacan

Critical Frameworks Seminar

We’ve moved on to Michel Foucault,  concept of the self, postmodernism and subjectivity….

A discussion of the word ‘genius’ and how it is a masculine quality  – Picasso was given as an example of genius I couldn’t think of a woman genius! Modernism seems to emphasize masculine qualities and saw women as secondary. Women are not referred to as genius but gifted, talented etc. . Postmodernism and Foucault talks about the ‘subject’ rather than the self.  The body became our general medium for understanding the world, as in the work of Ana Mendieta

Ana Mendieta

Helen Chadwick is an artist I admire, who did some very strong work using her own body to explore subjectivity in ‘Ego Geometric Sum’, a work she called her personal museum

‘Ego Geometric Sum’ – Helen Chadwick

What makes up the self?

Every day for 28 days Sandro Kopp painted a self portrait  ‘A new me’ – Can the self ever be fixed? He was really setting himself up for failure because ‘self’ will always be changing/evolving.

‘A new me’ Sandro Kopp

Cindy Sherman – the postmodern self – subverts stereotypes, creating the fragmented self – however her works are not self portraits, instead, she uses herself as a vehicle to comment on the role of women in society and in the media

Unititled Film Still #14, 1978 Cindy Sherman© Metro Picture Gallery & Cindy Sherman

We also looked at the work of the following artists who use subjectivity in their work…..

‘Truisms’ Jenny Holzer

Susan Hiller ‘The J street project’, 303 photographs each 28.67 x 20 cm, map, list of sites (detail)

And a couple of sound/music artists

John Cage who rejected subject and self as central but looks at how the external world imposes on the artist – key word is CHANCE – something that I am working with

Tori Amos ‘Strange little girls’ 2002 who takes songs written by men and changes the words to female to disclose the power switch

All fascinating stuff which I hope I have got right – please comment if you disagree or have any thoughts you would like to share – it’s a huge subject and I realise I need to do a lot more reading!!

Next week we are moving on to language and Wittgenstein!

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