Den lesbiska blicken : En undersökning av blick och betraktarskap utifrån tre målningar av Romaine Brooks
This paper aims to investigate the terms and conditions of a lesbian gaze and a lesbian spectatorship from a feminist and queer theoretical point of view. The empirical material consists of three paintings by the American artist Romaine Brooks (1874-1970). Brooks was based in Paris in the early 20th century where she was surrounded by a group of intellectual and usually cross-dressing lesbians. The women within this context are the ones depicted in Brooks’ paintings and this makes her one of the first artists in modernity to openly portray lesbian and cross-dressing women. Her paintings lead into new conditions for the traditional understanding of spectatorship as well as female positions, since there is no male involvement or presence within the interactive space surrounding these paintings. The survey tries to further investigate and break down already existing theories concerning spectatorship with the main focus on Laura Mulvey’s the male gaze, termed in the essay“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975). The queer theoretical approach in this paper is based on Judith Butler’s performativity, which then is attached to gaze theories in order to investigate the active and passive positions found in Brooks’ paintings. The paper does also include an analysis of the male gaze in relation to modernism, avant-garde, canon and subsequently the reason behind Brooks’ absence in modernist canon.
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