Laura Gonzalez

blog

12 Nov 2006

Seductive object or fetish?

Disturbingly, Lexa Walsh’s objects are very similar to mine. She calls them seductive too, although they embody everything I don’t want mine to be. I think they are closer to a fetish, someone else’s fetish, than to a seductive object. They silence my look somehow, I don’t want to be near them. That revulsion, however, is not the lack of gratification required of the artistic object. These objects do gratify a fantasy, a fantasy one may have about art, what art does, where art goes.

Partially, broken apart, however, they do have something that makes me think twice: the doll’s look, the similarity of the brown objects to both feces and chocolate, the sexual references in Mickey Mouse, hair without body. Hair, hair, always hair, the fetish object excellence. These elements are not seductive characteristics. They don’t lead astray. They are the reminders and the remainders of an other’s desire.

Victoria Civera does not qualify her objects as seductive. They are not fetishes either. They talk about desire, about little objectual passions we all have even if they manifest themselves through a different object choice. The object in Civera’s work often stands for something else; or, to put it in another way, it calls something else into play.

If I am to be right in my quick diagnosis of Lexa Walsh’s abject work, her fetishes would also have to call something into play. That something, however, is not Das Ding or Objet Petit a, as in Civera’s case. Althought the two examples of work may look the same, they couldn’t be further away when related to my research. This distinction between seductive, fetish objects, and their relationship to abjection and, of course, desire [through my objects, my desire, the desire of the Other], is something I am going to have to address in this year’s report.

Posted in Blog, Psychoanalysis, Seductive artworks, Seductive things


2 Responses to “Seductive object or fetish?”

  1. Sinthome said:

    Interesting stuff. Somewhere, I think Seminar 18 or 19, Lacan draws a distinction between the semblance of objet a as it functions in perversion and objet a proper. The pervert fills in objet a with a semblance, thereby disavowing the castration that underlies objet a (in Seminar 11, you might recall, Lacan writes objet a as a/~phi). This is the way a fetish functions as well. You might want to track down Lacan’s essay on Fetishism: Real, Imaginary, Symbolic, to work this out in a bit more detail.

    I find this remark especially interesting:

    “Partially, broken apart, however, they do have something that makes me think twice: the dollÌs look, the similarity of the brown objects to both feces and chocolate, the sexual references in Mickey Mouse, hair without body. Hair, hair, always hair, the fetish object excellence. These elements are not seductive characteristics. They donÌt lead astray. They are the reminders and the remainders of a otherÌs desire.”

    Isn’t there a way in which the artist you write about here is inviting us to traverse the fantasy? When I look at the photograph of the hair hanging on the wall I’m filled with a sort of horror. There’s something horrifying in being confronted with objet a. Lacan develops this thesis well in Seminar 10, where he argues that anxiety occurs through an overproximity with the object. What the artist seems to do is throw the fetish in your face, forcing you to confront it in the absence of the frame through which it’s normally encountered (in seminar 6, Lacan describes fantasy as a frame). I’ve written about the relation between fantasy in the frame pretty extensively over at Larval Subjects, so you might find those diaries interesting. At any rate, there’s a way in which this particular photograph seems to “de-frame” hair, transforming it from a fetish that functions as an occasion of desire to a disgusting remainder. In doing so she seems to deconstruct the fetish and desire, rubbing our noses in it. Wonderful blog, Laura!

  2. Laura Gonzalez said:

    I think you are absolutely right Levi. I posted this to hear myself think about why Lexa’s objects, even if they were similar in appearance to mine, were not seductive. I also suspect that there would be a difference between encountering the hair object face-to-face, as it were, and through a photographic translation. Framing and de-framing are more compelling in the latter I supose. In comparison, Vicky Civera’s objects (the last 3 pictures of the post) operate in a very different way. The element of horror, although it still exists Ûpins, covered objectsÛ is not immediately manifest. This is inviting. She lets us approach her pieces and when we are close, bang! we understand they are irremediably empty, lacking, without semblance. Something like a black hole. This is what I mean by seductive objects…

    Perhaps the next thing I need to do is look at the link between seduction and the traversing of the fantasy, especially the issue of overproximity which the two sets of objects seem to have in common. We need to get close to them for something to happen, whether is feeling anxiety or falling for them. Your blog offered me a great deal of interesting material so many thanks for that. And it is very enjoyable to read too!

Leave a Reply

About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.