First and foremost, this project is a tribute to transmission; a way to speak up about internalized voices gathered through readings and films, then projected onto a space: here Sweden, precisely the city of Malmö. Hélène Cixous explains the importance of women writing in Laugh of the Medusa. She says: “I shall speak about women’s writing: about what it will do. Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been away as violently from their bodies—for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal.” (347) Even though a lot of the words written in my journal are from different writers, I do reflect on them. The act of writing becomes a way to perpetuate women’s voice and develop a language that represents taking possession of your own body and your own memories. To silence oneself is to tame intuition, as Terry Tempest Williams says, and “when one woman doesn’t speak, other women get hurt.” (122) If the ability to speak up has been violently taken away from women, they need to re-appropriate their bodies in order to influence each other.
Lina Scheynius is a photographer who uses different platforms such as flickr, tumblr and instagram to share her work. She started as an amateur photographer, mostly using film, taking intimate pictures of herself and her entourage. Stylistically, her portraits share similarities with Nan Goldin, an influential photographer who started in the 70s, using flash cameras and snapshot aesthetic to portray brutal and authentic images of her close ones.
Lina talked about her instagram practice for Wandering Bears, a creative organization working for the promotion of emerging artists. She explains that she was “very reluctant to join instagram” at first and created her account fairly recently (around 2013-14) because she was scared that her social networks would overtake her life at one point. Using internet was a massive freedom, she says, in order to start building her audience and to challenge the iconography related to women’s presence on the web. However, because of the ‘like’ culture she is constantly struggling between her own judgments regarding a good photograph and how popular it can get. Scheynius describes her art as personal journals and take advantage of the online space to produce self-images that are authentic and daring to her eyes.
Inhabiting space, as Sara Ahmed explains, implies a “system of possible movements” (53), but how does relation between bodies and objects are intertwined in online spaces? Using Lina Scheynius’ instagram activity as an example, anyone who wants to observe her page requires an intermediate: a mobile device. First, our movements are related to the space we inhabit, while we are using our device –bedroom, kitchen, café, school, etc. Hence, our bodies have different positions in relation to each of these possible spaces. Personally, the comfort, intimacy and privacy of my bedroom would influence my interaction with online space (using instagram) differently then if I was in the metro –a shared space with unknown people who may observe what I am doing on my phone. However, Ahmed notes the connexion between bodies and objects describing the relation between a writer and his writing table. “[T]his body with this table is a different body than it would be without it,” (55) she describes. In a way, objects are extension of our bodies and have multiple uses to partake in certain activities. In the case of the mobile apparatus, it gives access to another dimension (another space) that is not possible with other everyday objects.
Mobile media allows “bodies [to be] submerged, such that they become the space they inhabit, in taking up space, bodies move through space and are affected by the “where” of that movement.” In the giving example, scrolling on Lina Scheynius instagram page gives us access to two different spaces simultaneously: where I am with the mobile phone and the space of Scheynius photographs. Her visual world captures moments of tension and contemplation -sky colors, tensed hands, body hair- all related to her interactions with others and the space she inhabits. Her shots demonstrate a sense of spontaneity, offering her intimacy to the viewer. The photographer is conscious of her process and it is in fact liberating to observe a world that is so openly giving to us.
Nonetheless, this ideal of openness is regulated by instagram and may obstruct our orientation towards the artist’s work. In fact, Scheynius does not respect the “keep you clothes on” rule, which arbitrarily allows instagram to censor certain content. A limited amount of her work is present on instagram affecting our experience of it. If “phenomenology is an ‘open circuit’ between the perceiving body and its world” (2002:102) as Rosalyn Diprose explains (55), then our experiences are define by politics which alter the information accessible to us. Then how is it possible to have access to truthful creative exposition? How does online photographers succeed in finding genuine ways to present themselves?
Ahmed, Sara. Queer Phenomenology Ch. 1: Orientations Towards Objects, section “Inhabiting Spaces”. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006. 51-63.
New York is a city I only had the chance to visit three times. However, each time I plan to spend a couple of hours at the Strand Bookstore, a popular spot among new yorkers and travellers as well. Thanks to my literature teacher who brought us there to do a beat generation tour in 2008, never expected it would mark my experience of the city that much. For this exercise, I will rely mostly on my memory and artefacts I carry with me—reminders of my last visit— in order to base my analysis.
As I mentioned in my first blog post, I choose this specific place because I want to escape and wander. Especially escape from the boiling city and friends accompanying me, this, for a short period of time. I am also seeking a place of my own, where no interruptions could alter my connection with the space and its overwhelming power, I might say. In his article, “How Library and Bookstores Became the New Community Centers”, Michael Scott talks about the creation of communities through bookstores and how it is possible to reinvent the purposes of these establishments. He mentions “these places are also filling another critical need in our communities, by providing a haven for those seeking a communal connection in an ever-more isolated world.” Even though his argument revolves around the fact that bookstores are loosing popularity because of online resources like Amazon, it is actually to find myself isolated that I visit these spaces. My engagement with the environment is focused on my own discoveries, reveries and so on.
Previously, I wrote “to me, the experience of the spatial environment is much more intellectual than physical”, however this is not true at all. Unfortunately, I assumed that my experience was a dualistic interaction with the space; as if my mind was separated from my physical perception and my intellect was somehow overtaking my senses. Jason Farman paraphrases Merleau-Ponty and explains how “our knowledge […] is gained through the sensory connection between our bodies and the world that surrounds us.” In fact, the Cartesian mind/body dualism implies a lot of negativity related to the body, as if it was the instrument of the mind. Accepting the intricate relation between the mind and the body allows me to depends my understanding of my visits to the Strand. Because the space is huge, and there is room to move fluidly, my body is not disturbed by physical interactions. I also have the freedom to pick any book and spend the time I need to immerse myself. These interactions are physical and allow my mind to rest and to be in a meditative state.
In order to reconnect with my previous stop at the Strand, I scanned some books that are key to my remembrance. I see them as being the “food for thought” I was looking for at that time.
Farman, Jason (2012). Mobile Interface Theory Ch. 2 “Mapping and Representations of Space” (35-55) London: Routledge.
Grosz, Elizabeth. (2005). Reconfiguring Bodies. In Mariam Fraser and Monica Greco (Eds.), The Body: A Reader (47-51). London: Routledge.
Our mis-guide explores the downtown campus. We suggest you to pair up with one or two students to start your flânerie. Keep that in mind, it is an exercise offered embracing slowness and idleness. Also, in order to partake in different interactions that might occur through your route, we propose you to do it on a weekday, before 5pm. It is not an obligation though. Have 1.50$ in your pocket, it might be useful along the way, but once again, it is only a suggestion…
__Anne-Mette and Noémie
This article was part of my syllabus for another class. I thought it could be useful to share it, in relation to this week lecture and presentation.
“Over the last two decades, urban researchers have investigated how gender shapes gay and lesbian geographies in major post-industrial cities. These studies demonstrated that while gay men have often produced highly visible territorial enclaves in inner-city areas, lesbian forms of territoriality at the urban scale have been relatively ‘invisible’ since their communities are constituted through social networks rather than commercial sites. Contrasting the patterns produced by these two populations in the inner-city areas of post-industrial cities during the ‘queer’ 1990s has created a gender-polarized and historically specific interpretation of their patterns of territoriality and visibility that may differ significantly from those of earlier periods. This paper, therefore, provides a long-range historical geography of lesbians in a major metropolitan area through a case study of Montreal’s lesbian bar cultures since 1950. The focus of the analysis is on the preconditions that led to the establishment of the city’s lesbian commercial enclave in the 1980s and the factors that led to its decline in the 1990s. This case study, therefore, outlines the shifting character of lesbian territorial practices at the urban scale in Montreal since 1950. It illustrates that in Montreal lesbian territoriality and visibility have been strongly impacted by local neighbourhood dynamics, internal ideologies, and political and spatial relationships with gay men. Ultimately, these findings suggest that contemporary lesbian visibility at the urban scale may have been undermined by an increased identification with the ‘queer’ forms of community and their territorialization in Montreal’s gay Village.”
I am a student in Fine Arts Major Film Production and currently doing my last year at Concordia. Previously I studied Literature and Communications and decided to pursue my studies in film. Spending most of my time either working on sets or on personal projects, I also enjoy working in restaurants –a great sideline to my academic projects.
These days, I dedicate a lot of time building my portfolio for my future student exchange next semester. Applying to three different art academies in Europe, I am hoping to challenge myself regarding education and art practices from another cultural perspective. Heard about the class very last minute and was very excited about the content description. My objectives are mainly to increase my vocabulary regarding the politics of bodies and spaces, discover new authors and acquire a new set of tools to incorporate in my own work.
Among my favorite places, bookstores are on top. The Strand bookstore is one of my best spot in New York. It remembers me of the first time I visited the city and I can always spend many hours escaping and wandering on every floor. The place is vast with high ceilings, each floor has different categories: new arrivals, non-fiction/essays, graphic novels, art books and the most exciting, the rare books. I find novels, essays or anthologies at great prices. To me, the experience of the spatial environment is much more intellectual than physical, I remember feeling very tranquil and quiet, as if I was alone among book rows.
What are the five things faculty do that make learning hard?
- (Sometimes) competitive environment that provokes a lack of fraternity and divide people.
- Absence of evaluation grid in certain classes
- Advising for student with mental issues
- Missing rigorous critics towards art production
What are the five things faculty do that make it easy to learn?
- Amazing art facilities and material
- Great resources/opportunities for student –festivals, artist talks, independent library, student-run cafés, organic food store, galleries, etc.
- Considerable course selection, especially in queer theory, compared to French universities.
- Teacher availability
- Great reputation internationally among art schools