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Interview with Laura Mulvey, Birkbeck College (London), 9 March 2010

english | castellano

...the relationship between marxist way of understanding the struggle in relationship with feminism; and also the relationship between the avant-garde and the mainstream film language. So we would like you to think about that moment, to revisit that debate.


Looking back from now it seems like a moment of great optimism. It some ways it seems that we were naively utopian in the way the we felt at that time, that it was possible to remake the world and to remake politics through questions of the visual and representation. And I think that was one of the big influences that feminism had on political thought at the time, to introduce of the image and representation into questions of politics. Now, of course, that wasn't the first time that that happened, because thinking back the avant-garde of the 1920s had always been about the relationship between radical politics and radical aesthetics. But in a way it was rediscovered, re-articulated, restated under the influence of feminism.I think also the influence of feminism worked to fuse with, or coincide with the intellectual influences coming to us from France, particularly questions of semiotics and of course in feminism we discovered psychoanalysis and Freud. All these things accentuated the way in which questions of representation came into the fore. One little story, for instance, which I always feel it's relevant, it's the way questions of the body and representation of the body moved from being a matter of activism to a matter of theoretical debate. So for instance in the early days of feminism we would put stickers on advertisements and say 'this ad exploits women'. Or there was the demonstration against Miss World. But the question then arose of what did these images represent, was it a signifier of actual women, or was it a signifier of how the image women had become commodified within patriarchal society. So out of these moments of direct action came the question of semiotics and psychoanalysis, almost emerging directly out of one kind of politics and leading to another. So I feel these kind of questions set the scene, if you see what I mean.

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