Anne Birgitte Rønning:
Art, Gender and Aesthetic Valorization
Referring to recent cases of gender trouble in the field of arts, the article pleads for more attention to the gender implications of aesthetic theory. While a lot of good research has been done in a Norwegian context on gender in art history and literary criticism, there has been less attention to feminist philosophical aesthetics. The article presents some of the research in this field, with a special focus on the gender implications of some key concepts of 18th century aesthetics: the binarism of the beautiful and the sublime, the understanding of art as masculine transcendence and the universalist ideals of taste and aesthetic judgment.
Keywords: gender and aesthetics, aesthetic theory, aesthetic valorization, beautiful and sublime, Burke, Kant, Mattick, Klinger, Korsmeyer
Doomed Women: on Gender, Art and Tradition in a Poem by Charles Baudelaire
In August 1857, six poems from Charles Baudelaire’s collection of poetry Les Fleurs du mal were banned for immoral content. One of these prohibited texts was the first poem entitled “Femmes damnées”, later re-baptized “Femmes damnées – Delphine et Hippolyte” in order to distinguish it from another poem with the same title. In this long poem, we meet two women after their first moment of sexual intimacy: the mature and secure Delphine is eager to persuade her lover that they have done nothing wrong, whilst the inexperienced and confused Hippolyte fears that their love is “a monstrous deed”. The poem, however, cannot simply be read as a tribute to lesbians (as asserted by the prosecutor during the trial against Baudelaire), nor is it a condemnation of female homosexuality (as claimed by Baudelaire’s lawyer). Baudelaire transforms the two women’s “deviant” love into an allegory of the distinctive character of art, and he deepens its meaning by linking it to cultural and religious tradition. One cannot fully understand the meaning of gender in Baudelaire’s poems if one does not relate it to his conception of art and his twofold source of inspiration: Christianity and Greek mythology.
Key words: Charles Baudelaire, “Femmes damnées”, Sapphic poetry, gender, art, Christianity, Greek mythology
Goddesses with job and children? The Sexuality of Single Mothers in Contemporary Norwegian Literature
The article contains an analysis of how contemporary novels written by the Norwegian writers Hanne Ørstavik, Trude Marstein, Vigdis Hjorth, Merete Morken Andersen and Anne Oterholm present the sexuality of single mothers. While the protagonist mothers in Plutselig høre noen åpne en dør (2000), Kjærlighet (1997), Like sant som jeg er virkelig (1999), Hva er det med mor (2000), Hav av tid (2002) and Etter kaffen (2002) imagine themselves as being in control of their sexuality, as well as of their life in general, the literary texts bring out other perspectives by using different narrative devices. First and foremost, the children are given a voice by becoming the narrators of their mother’s stories, by infiltrating their mother’s words from within, or by being shown as suffering, or even suicidal. In fact, the novels describe mothers not only as attractive and seemingly liberalized women, but also as controlling and even horrifying women of power, and readers are reminded of constructions of archaic mother goddesses.
Keywords: Motherhood, sexuality, contemporary literature, Ørstavik, Marstein, Oterholm, Hjorth, Morken Andersen
Sexuality and Aesthetics. Reflections about my performance-praxis between 1978 and 1988
In the period between 1978 and1988 I staged a series of performances. Since the feminist claims in the 1970s of the connections between the personal, the sexual and the political, the media-landscape and art have gone through some profound changes. Are there some traces and re-actualizations of how feminist performance-art incorporated personal experience and autobiographical material? First in this article I give a description of the contemporary discourses and social settings I was part of at that time, such as experimental theatre, feminism, Viennese actionism and the art-community (AAO). Second I describe some of the aesthetic and relational strategies I applied, such as working with my body as material, and materials such as color, earth, flowers and “blood”, the mixing of different media and aesthetics, fusions between life and art and inclusion of the public. I describe my style of communication as hyper-theatrical, autobiographical and confrontational. The themes I addressed were about feminism, politics and communal living. I make continual links to the practices of feminist performance-art of the same period and discuss some questions about aesthetics and sexuality.
Keywords: Performance-art, feminism, aesthetics, gender and sexuality, Viennese actionism, the art-community, AAO