Wanted Woman: Iconography of Fear and Desire in Imaging ‘The Transgressive’
From the Classical, through the Rebirth and into the Modern epochs, woman is imagined to be transgressive, categorized as other and persecuted as deviant, this history documented in art. When institutions of power deploy iconographic programs, to what extent do the compositional principles used by artists operate as a Foucauldian panopticon towards the societal legislation, normalization and control of gendered behaviors? By what methods do we trace plague and famine, as well as the respective expression of these events as social disorder and religious revolution, through the style in which a woman is imaged and, reciprocally, how do such environmental conditions inform the representation of these signifying bodies? And where symbolic objects rendered within a picture plane communicate a culture’s perceptions, beliefs and attitudes about a woman’s mind, body, grouping, and labor, how can techniques of image analysis assist in locating the causal origin for the so-called ‘transgressive woman’? Analyzing the appropriation of historic prototypes for discussing gender–the Medusa, Witch, Eve and Venus–in contemporary celebrity culture, social activism and digital media, I demonstrate how aesthetic paradigms encode gender norms, that in viewing an image we perform an ethical act which may perpetuate or challenge the feminine subject as a masculine object, and that visual methodologies may advance a critical, intertextual inquiry across academic disciplines.
On January 29, 2015, I presented this lecture on the image as a historical document and visual methodologies for the scholarly analysis of the image at the University of Colorado at Boulder. A group of fifty students were in attendance with backgrounds ranging from gender studies and history to biology and marketing. Below are select documentation of this presentation.
If you are interested in booking a lecture for your classroom, series or venue, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to presenting on my specific investigations as a scholar artist, areas of expertise include art as research, image analysis and visual literacy, as well as the transmission of gender and cultural identity through media.
Produced for use in an educational institution, the slides from this presentation are education purposes only. They are not for sale. Essay and slide text © 2015 Devon Schiller. All rights reserved.