Laura Gonzalez


18 Oct 2013

Are you my mother? by Alison Bechdel *****


Reading dates: 04 – 18 October 2013

After the difficulty she must have experienced in writing her first graphic novel memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, the fact that Alison Bechdel goes back to explore her Oedipal relation to her mother is no less than a Sisyphean feat. The novel is heartbreaking, deep, yet vulnerable as, at the same time as her mother, she explores her own writing of Fun Home and her relation to D. W. Winnicott, Virginia Woolf and Adrienne Rich. Those are three writers I either don’t know very well or at all, and she made me explore their ideas in a more systematic way.

Alison’s mother, also a writer, tells her, once her book about her dad is published, that no good writing comes from an engagement with the self. Walt Whitman, her favourite poet, never wrote with ‘I’ and yet composed some of the most wonderful transcendental works. The gulf between her (do we ever get to know her name?) and Alison is unsurmountable. Winnocott’s list of why would a woman hate her baby, however, makes it more manageable. Mothers and daughters make for a complicated relation. If you are a daughter, or a mother of a daughter, I am sure you have your own comic drama to tell.

This graphic novel has a lot to it (in the references, in the drawings, also by Bechdel) and, in the personal, it is political and universal.

Posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Psychoanalysis, Reading

One Response to “Are you my mother? by Alison Bechdel *****”

  1. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel***** said:

    […] read Are you my mother? first, the story of her other progenitor. Lovers of Fun Home kept telling me they found the […]

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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.