Painting the Feminine into Ontology
On the Recent Works of Bracha L. Ettinger
Commissioned catalogue essay
Medusa-Butterfly exhibitions of artworks by Bracha L. Ettinger
Museo Leopoldo Flores (Toluca, Mexico)/Galería Polivalente (Guanajuato, Mexico), 2014.
Persephone was picking flowers: roses, crocus, and beautiful violets.
Up and down the soft meadow. Iris blossoms too she picked, and hyacinths.
And the narcissus, which was grown as a lure for the flower-faced girl …
Its sweet fragrance spread over the wide skies above.
And the earth below smiled back in all its radiance. So too the chuming mass of the salty sea.
She was filled with a sense of wonder, and she reached out with both hands
to take hold of the pretty plaything.
And the earth, full of roads leading every which way opened up under her.
There is was that the Lord who received many guests made his lunge …
He seized her against her will, put her on his golden chariot,
And drove away as she wept. She cried out with a piercing voice,
calling upon her father, the son of Kronos, the highest and the best.
But not one of the immortal ones, or of human mortals
heard her voice. Not even the olive trees which bear their splendid harvest.
Homeric Hymn to Demeter, c. 7th century BC.
Colour Becoming Light, Becoming Music
Over the last thirty years Bracha Ettinger has been developing an important body of art and theory that radically re-paints, and re-thinks, the feminine, the subject, aesthetics and ethics. With her Eurydice paintings, Bracha suspends the female figure at the abysmal threshold between life and death: disappearing and re-appearing.[i] At the very limit point of signification, between annihilation and redemption, Eurydice is bound to an infinite movement of continual becoming. Currently numbering over fifty, painted over many years, these Eurydices are an extended series that Bracha returns to again and again, adding wounding lines and sorrowing colours. Beginning with two works in this exhibition, Eurydice nu descendrait nos. 1 2006-2012 and 2 2006-2013, we see figure-shapes which are simultaneously indistinct and several, cascading over the canvas in an aqueous stream of pearlescent white, connecting us to J. M. W. Turner’s visions of water and light in his paintings of Norham Castle (c. 1845) and Buttermere Lake (c. 1797-98). These rivulets of opalescent light-water reappear across the canvases of recent paintings in which Bracha invokes other female figures — women, daughters and mothers — who accompany the Eurydices caught between two deaths that she has been painting with for over twenty years. Although it is clear that these paintings take time to complete, they appear to have an urgency about them, as if something is pressing through time to impress upon our time: Figures morph across canvases, polymorphous diversiforms are wreathed in colour. Pale and deep tones of iris blue and amethyst shift in tonal register, infiltrated by cerise, plum, magenta; amaranth, carmine and rosewood, evoking a ‘beyond the touching gaze: the resonant gaze.’[ii] Musing on the late musical works of Ludwig van Beethoven, Theodor Adorno observes the ‘fragmented, landscape is objective, while the light in which it glows is subjective. He does not bring about their harmonious synthesis. As a dissociative force he tears them apart in time, perhaps in order to preserve them for the eternal.’[iii] In Bracha’s latest works colour and light braid the objective and subjective and paint vibrates with the somatic evanescence of matrixial modulations: colour is becoming–musical
Amongst Bracha’s recent works we find St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, attending Eurydice in No Title Yet no. 1 (St. Anne) and No Title Yet no. 3 (Eurydice, St. Anne) 2003-2009. And in the past eight years, 2006-now, a new series of oil paintings has emerged: Medusa—Demeter—Persephone. Ophelia, the “crazy” maiden now appears alongside the monstrous serpent-haired Medusa (Ophelia, Medusa, nos. 1 and 2, 2006-2013); the Graces, the three goddesses who bestowed charm, grace, creativity and fertility, escort Eurydice and Medusa (Eurydice, The Graces, Medusa 2006-2012), Persephone (Eurydice, the Graces, Persephone 2006-2012) and Demeter (Eurydice, the Graces, Demeter 2006-2012). In Ophelia, Medusa nos. 1 and 2 we see what appears to be a mouth, perhaps a silenced scream, that reappears in Medusa no. 1. Sometimes a face appears, almost doubled, as in Eurydice, the Graces, Demeter 2006-2012 and Eurydice, the Graces, Persephone 2006-2012. The Graces and Demeter keep company with Eurydice, there where Bracha keeps her and us at the threshold before the killing look of a second death, and we cannot quite see her. Then Persephone joins the Graces and Eurydice, she is Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and she no longer inhabits the canvas alone. Finally in Demeter, Persephone 2006-2013, the mother and daughter duet are reunited — or ensnared — in milky fronds. But look closer: here too is Medusa of the gaping mouth and she is doubling, multiple: she is legion. In this way, Bracha’s artworks cannot be considered in isolation, nor as repetitive serialisations. Rather, as with Beethoven’s objective and subjective elements, they are musical variations that weave webs and invoke shamanic initiations through the history of art, across and beyond time to forge conduits for the feminine: past, present and future. All these female figures which are held together as a defiance of the Now, in abeyance for the Eternal.
Painting as Ekstasis
From the ancient Greek, the word ekstasis denotes a rapturous, mystical even, ontological displacement of the sovereign subject. If we take up the invitation to enter Bracha’s Ettinger’s emerging body of videos, paintings, drawings and notebooks, we trust to take this risk to be entranced, of being transported beside or outside of one’s own self to co-exist amidst a cosmological universe. Here amongst, what I propose to call, a cosmic eco-ontology we find paint as colour-light nestling amidst creaturely figures and botanic becomings: animal daemons — owls, butterflies, chrysalides — and nascent, shapeshifting, vegetal forms that eviscerate boundaries instituted between the human and non-human, animate and inanimate. In Bracha’s Medusa and Owl 2012 the owl that accompanies the silently screaming Medusa connects us across and through time. Bracha’s owl reminds us of the owl that accompanies the other animal behemoths in Francisco Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (1797-98), but also connects us to the owl that was a mascot of the goddess Athena and represented her sagacious acuity. We are thus simultaneously reminded that it was Athena who brandished the, death-inducing Medusa on her shield. Both Medusa and the owl are harbingers of death, but for Native American peoples the owl was the guardian of the night and the animal guide that escorts the dead to the afterlife. Thus the owl and Medusa together issue forth a twilight, cosmological medicine that weaves life into death, death into life, daylight into the darkness of night and darkness into light of the day.
In her recent ink drawings and aquarelles Bracha details a number of chrysalides that reappear in becoming-emergence in her notebooks. Sometimes these shapes reform in Bracha’s video works to float across water-pages, flutter over the eyelids of the artist’s ageing mother, the artist as daughter; mother-daughter/daughter/mother/becoming-butterfly-world. Other times they impregnate diaphanous colour-veils of ink drawings with limb-ligaments and bulbous fruit-seeds or the saturated fields of colour and tangling branch-rotting-roots in the Lichtenberg Flower and Medusa series (2010-2011). At such times, subject is emerging object, object is emerging subject, human is becoming animal-plant and plant-animals are becoming human in sky, sea, moon, in ashes, dust, debris. We may think, again, of Persephone picking four seasons of flowers: roses, crocus, violets and daffodils. Rent from the blossoming bower of the meadow and swept up into the arms of Hades, she is transported to live amongst the shades of the Dead in the Underworld until Demeter comes to claim her so that the daughter can return to live on earth for six months of the year. In the creases and folds of Bracha’s paper works, inks, aquarelles and mixed media we encounter the butterfly — symbol of rebirth and transformation, emblematic of the soul — emerging from the chrysalis. And in the paintings we rendezvous with the murderous Medusa as a serpentine flower of animating breath and the owl as a herald for dusk as dawn. Here, in Bracha’s cosmology, we are in a domain where the not yet living is co-emerging with the never to be dead: butterfly-chrysalis is generative of the cocoon/tomb, cocoon/womb, and Demeter-Persephone are labouring ecstatic mysteries, enlacing death into life and life into death.
Amongst Female Familiars: From Surrealism to Subrealism
On the occasion of Bracha Ettinger’s work being shown in Mexico it is opportune to reflect on the work of two other artists who resided here: Frida Kahlo and Leonora Carrington To consider Bracha, Frida and Leonora’s work in tandem is to re-consider the feminine in the human within the context of realism and Surrealism. It was André Breton who announced woman as the “most marvellous and disturbing problem in the world” and who pronounced Frida a Surrealist. Frida, however, insisted she painted her own reality and she did this by drawing on an iconoclastic inventory of symbols and redeploying them with her trademark subversive theatricality. Leonora detailed a reservoir of female hybridisations that refuse the designated space of woman as muse and femme enfant within the Surrealist canon. In this way they both intervene with Surrealism’s fascination with the unconscious and the enigma of woman. In a page from one of her artist’s notebooks from 2012 Bracha writes ‘sub-realism, sub-reality,’ thus drawing our attention to the work of artists who:
.. continually introduce into culture all kinds of Trojan horses from the margins of their consciousness: in that way the limits of the Symbolic are transgressed all the time by art. It is quite possible that many artworks carry subjective traces by their creators, but the specificity of works of art is that their materiality cannot be detached from ideas, perceptions, emptions, consciousness, cultural meaning and that being interpreted and reinterpreted is their cultural destiny. This is one of the reasons why art is symbologenic.[i]
Bracha asks us to reconsider art and the feminine as Love: an ‘aesthetical principle’ that ‘eludes the plane of representation and also establishes it.’[ii] In her recent theoretical work, Bracha has been articulating ‘Shocks of Maternality’ which she identifies in three zones. The first zone of shock being pre-maternity, pregnancy, unborn child loss (chosen or unchosen) and infertility; the second zone being birthing, the third zone being post-birth, from early motherhood until old age and death. In her paintings and drawings, Frida addressed the embodied realities of female maternal subjectivity: childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, lactation. Thus Bracha’s theorisation of maternal shocks allows us to reapproach Frida’s works as performative re-inscriptions and sites of working through these shocks in the maternal body. In Frida’s artworks the maternal body is not only a site of idealised procreation. Rather, the semiotics and iconographies that shroud the cultural taboos of pregnancy, motherhood, childbirth and child loss are re-inscribed and open onto an aesthetics of female corporeality. Frida’s works acknowledge femininity as at once a masquerade and a performance of feminine tropes inscribed upon the body, but also as creative subversions of such tropes where already existing semiotics and iconographies are redeployed to interrogate shocks in the feminine. In this sense, Bracha’s elaboration of maternal shocks articulates the matrixial dimension where Frida ‘cannot be totally Other to her m/Other’ and this allows us to consider Frida as a female subject, as ‘daughter-infant, then as adult, potential (non)parent’ who, through her art, ‘will traverse shocks of maternality (of herself, and partially also those of her mother).’[iii] The enigmatic representations of childbirth and motherhood in Frida’s works, for example My Birth (1932) and My Nurse and I (1937) may be an attempt to express what Bracha terms ‘the desire of the subject-mother’ that ‘contributes to the emergence of a desiring subject-daughter.’[iv] In, Fulang Chang and I (1937) Frida presents herself alongside one of her pet monkeys. I wish to consider this image of woman and monkey as a Madonna and Child that queers the mother and infant scenario.[v] The frame that encases the painting replicates the frame of a mirror that Frida placed beside the painting when it was exhibited. This gesture expresses an invitation to inhabit a world between human and animal: a space/place prior to differentiation which is what Bracha identifies as the feminine in the subject. Can we consider that even though there was no cultural understanding at that time for the feminine that Bracha relates, Frida may have been attempting to find a visual language for the enigma of archaic maternity? If so Frida’s oeuvre can be re-cast within a matrixial light in which shocks in the maternal are addressed, whereby artistic energy is not only countenanced in terms of a deletion of and repeated foreclosure on female corporeality and where an aesthetic poetics of the maternal body initiates future becomings for the feminine subject.
This brings me to the paintings of Leonora Carrington whose canvases are populated by fey and otherworldly creatures that only someone who still has one foot planted in childhood could invent. In Leonora’s paintings we find the daughter, woman and crone — the tripartite goddess — and this pantheon of feminine archetypes reside amongst animal and female figures as transforming, mutating, metamorphosing, hybrid creatures. In her early twenties Leonora was incarcerated in a mental asylum in Santander, and when we consider her morphing figures, it is no surprise that she recorded the following observation in her memoirs from this time: ‘I realized that my anguish – my mind, if you prefer – was painfully trying to unite itself with my body.’[vi] It is significant that, in part, Leonora wove her symbols from the fabric of Celtic myths and rituals that were passed on to her through her maternal line: her Irish nanny and her mother. These Irish legends abound with figures of the dead that refuse to remain in their place, that refuse to be inanimate and persist in intruding into the psychical life of the subject.
In Map of Down Below (1943), Leonora Carrington provides us with a diagram that is reminiscent of a treasure map: a delicate mapping of spaces that hint at hidden treasures and secrets that refuse to remain secrets; a map of that Down Below (1941) place that appears in the painting of the same name. In this work, the sphinx, the femme fatale, the green horse, the dark-haired woman with a mask in her hand inhabit a fey, ethereal space. The secret treasure to be found there is not yielded in its entirety but rather suggested at, while simultaneously veiled, by Leonora’s unique imagination. Carrington creates a cosmo-verse that disturbs division and separation, an impure, hybrid and composite otherworld being ushered forth into our world. In this way these female-animal figures resemble the mother-Thing of the Real that, according to Jacques Lacan, threatens the sovereign subject with psychical annihilation. However, with Bracha’s conceptualisation of the human, as with Leonora’s feminine symbols, the subject is an impure, partialised, composite entity whose psychical and corporeal boundaries have always, already been transgressed by the feminine and not woman-Thing as deadly Other.
‘to paint like I do, this is a new ontology’[i]
For the past thirty years Bracha Ettinger has been elaborating a body of theoretical writing that radically challenges our understanding of the human. This theory arises from her artistic practice in the form of thoughts and words which are recorded, in emergence, into artist notebooks in her studio. Thus, in its first instance, Bracha’s theory surfaces from her aesthetics. Circumnavigating the circuitry of phallic thought that relegates the womb to an hospitable/inhospitable no-space/place representing threatening regression and incapable of donating any non-psychotic meaning to relations between self and other, Bracha reminds us that we all — male or female and regardless of gender — emerge into life via this encounter which, from the onset, is transgressive in the before as beyond time/space/place of the maternal womb. She thus invites us to countenance this womb as matrix: a site of emergence that is a feminine, primordial and singular, first sexual difference that aesthetically affects every subject. In her most recent work, Bracha has begun to elaborate the “Demeter-Persephone Complex” in which she continues to address the question of female to female relation.[ii] Having previously articulated the modalities by which the archaic m/Other and the mother figure/function, as well as the woman-to-woman and then more generally the same sex differentiation and differenciation processes (“different/ciating in co-emergence”), are subjected to psychical foreclosure in philosophy, psychoanalysis, and culture more generally, in this work Bracha now proceeds to help us to understand Demeter-Persephone as a sphere of feminine to feminine relationality that offers a symbolic alternative to the Law of the Oedipal father:
Axes offered for meaning by the Oedipus as myth, as well as to the Anti-Oedipus fragmentation, are insufficient for giving meaning to the woman-to-woman (and more generally, same sex) difference and for the difference (of males and females) from the Mother. We have to ask what kind of human subject and society was shaped in view of man’s lack of womb not as organ but in terms of a whole symbolic universe of meaning and value stemming from the matrixial sphere where the containing of and the proximating to the Other occurs on a sub-subjective and pre-subjective level, and the passage from non-life to life, and sometimes from non-life to death as well as birth and birthing, enter the Unconsciousness of the human being in the feminine.[iii]
The myth of Demeter and Persephone not only offers a symbolic narrative for the fruits of harvest, the necessary passage of season to season, it is a parable for the necessity of female transition: from infancy, to girlhood, to womanhood for the sake of an exclusively heterosexual economy of desire. Should we not question the consequences, for Persephone, her mother, and her female companions when a specifically female space — of maternality and friendship, in which secret feminine knowledges are passed and shared from generation to generation — is ruptured? With the Demeter-Persephone Complex Bracha re-weaves the archaic feminine to feminine back into the fabric of the Symbolic, into the Imaginary of the subject, and of culture. Phallocentric thought can only re-present the womb as dereliction and as lost object-envelope, the mother as debased and to be abjected-rejected, and this inestimably devalues the human subject as such. Venturing beyond any previous comprehension or any extant psychoanalytic considerations of the feminine, Bracha is a most undutiful daughter who refuses to accept the Paternal Law. Recalling us to Demeter and Persephone, she challenges her psychoanalytic forbearers who insist upon the sovereignty and unity of the father’s world: a world that cuts, organises, categorises and reduces us all to individual, non-permeable singular units of the castrated One only. Rather, Bracha carefully explains how the archaic m/Other and the ‘figure of the real mother as subject’ are psychically entangled and enmeshed in the psyche, and she does this by outlining the consequences for the female subject when archaic femininity is not understood or is subjected to cultural foreclosure. Furthering our understanding of this feminine stratum in the subject, this Complex facilitates new means of approaching female hysteria, psychosis, melancholia and desire.[iv] As we have seen, whilst for Persephone the passage to female adulthood and adult sexuality occurs by way of a violent abduction, we learn from Bracha that Demeter’s love for her daughter is related to the ‘aesthetic core’ that ‘flourishes in and with the maternal-feminine Eros’ in the archaic womb where ‘the subject had already been desired-enough to be carried into life.’[v] Thus the Demeter-Persephone Complexity ushers forth valuable comprehension of the archaic feminine in the subject that generates possibilities of Symbolic and Imaginary transformation of the enforced discontinuity in archaic, matrixial-feminine tissue resulting from the penetration of the feminine time/space/place of Demeter and Persephone myth. In this way this Complex generates meaning for the feminine beyond the parameters currently evoked in philosophical and psychoanalytic thought by explicating the possibility of continuity, not split, on the archaic pre-Oedipal, sub-Symbolic, feminine dimension of the human. In his Eighth Duino Elegy Rilke laments the primary dispossession of the human; irreparably cleft from the womb the human subject gazes outward and is forever poised in an attitude of spectatorship towards the world:
Oh bliss of the tiny creature which remains
forever inside the womb that was its shelter
joy of the gnat which, still within, leaps up
even at its marriage: for everything is womb
… And we, spectators, always, everywhere,
turned toward the world of objects, never outward.
It fills us. We arrange it. It breaks down.
We rearrange it, then break down ourselves.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Eighth Duino Elegy
Bracha’s understanding of the human inverts this supposed ontological privation by detailing the feminine as an aesthetic affective economy with particular consequences for Ethics. This feminine aesthetics precedes identity and is prior to the intersubjective field of relation between subjects conceived as discrete and separate entities.[vi] Rather it is founded in primary hospitality, compassion and maternal Eros of borderlinking as non-sexual Love and forged in a ‘relation of hospitality by the exemplary way of the maternal womb.’[vii] Here womb stands for primordial transconnectivity in resonance and inspiration, what ‘links hospitality to the absolutely future and to vulnerability’ in the move of self-fragilization that informs the subject.[viii] As Bracha warns us: ‘approaching the Other who is infinitely Other by such (womb-like?) proximity is traumatic to the I who may thus become self-sacrificial’ for this awaits us if we remain with the Lacanian and Levinasian perspectives on the feminine.[ix] The meaning of womb/matrix itself must change, she claims; the m/Other is to be understood as subject, not object, and the Other is to be understood as almost-Other, transconnected to the fragilized self in the sub-Symbolic in what she names subreality. Eurydice, Ophelia and Medusa are Others who already exist as alarmist figures in the Symbolic and Imaginary, but in Bracha’s artist hands these sacrificial female figures are bathed in maternal Eros, for they consort with Demeter-Persephone so that all of these female figures form part of the warp and woof of the feminine in the subject.
In many of Bracha’s artworks and recent videos we find amorphous, indistinct, almost-human shapes overlaid and underlaid with her own uterine ultra-sonic scans, which capture in re-presentation that we cannot scopically grasp: the feminine as a sexual difference that is prior to representation but nonetheless aesthetically subjectivising There is always the risk that language will harness this feminine sexual difference to the determinacy of physical visibility. That is why it is justifiable to turn to the artists to countenance the aesthetics of the feminine that is prior to identity, previous to language and rooted in corpo-reality. If art is symbologenic and can bypass the phallic policing of culture then we may ask what a theory that arises from art practice, such as Bracha’s, can do when it is employed to reflexively interrogate painterly practice. In this sense art and theory become a composite, imbricated art-theory-work that Bracha describes in terms of a covenant where the borderline between the two domains is transformed. A covenant is a contract, an agreement, a pact, but it is also an accord, an alliance, an entente that stages its presence, in the Biblical sense, by way of the sacred in the human. Theory arising from artistic practice can plait this re-conceived feminine into representation, language and thought through aesthetic means, through the symbologenic device of the artist. Bracha’s artistic-theoretical project asks us to countenance the feminine as an originary aesthetical co-ordinate that humanises the human, whether we consciously acknowledge this possibility or not. In this way, the feminine that Bracha continues to place before us — in her art and in her thought — is a gift to the human, for if we can learn to listen and see this feminine poetically, aesthetically, we already participate in potentialising affective relations now and in the past, present, future of a beyond-as-before Matrixial Time. Thus to grasp the profundity of Bracha’s art and thought requires re-considering the very ontological foundations of the human. And to view her paintings and other artworks is to be in the presence of an aesthetics that paints the feminine into ontology.
[i] Bracha L. Ettinger, Notebook 2009-2012, (Archive page scan number 5918).
[ii] See in particular Bracha L. Ettinger, ‘Fascinance: The Woman-to-Woman (Girl-tom/Other) Matrixial Feminine Difference’ in Griselda Pollock (ed.). Psychoanalysis and the Image. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006, pp. 60-93.
[iii] Bracha L. Ettinger, ‘Demeter-Persephone Complexity, Entangled Aerials of the Psyche and the Poetry of Sylvia Plath’ in ESC Journal (English Studies in Canada), Special Issue 40.1: “Hysteria,” March 2014.
[iv] See Bracha L. Ettinger’s articulation of “Jocaste Complex” and the “ready-made mother-monster” in ‘Antigone with(out) Jocaste’ in S. E. Wilmer and A. Sakauskaite (ed.) Interrogating Antigone Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 212-228, and Bracha L. Ettinger, ‘M/Other Re-spect: Maternal Subjectivity, the Ready-made-mother-monster and the Ethics of Respecting’ in Studies in the Maternal 2 (1), 2010, pp. 1-24. [online]. Available at www.mamsie.bbk.ac.uk/documents/ettinger.pdf.
[v] Bracha L. Ettinger, ‘Demeter-Persephone Complexity, Entangled Aerials of the Psyche and the Poetry of Sylvia Plath’ in ESC Journal (English Studies in Canada), Special Issue 40.1: “Hysteria,” March 2014 and
Bracha L. Ettinger, ‘Demeter-Persephone Complexity, Entangled Aerials of the Psyche and the Poetry of Sylvia Plath’ in ESC Journal (English Studies in Canada), Special Issue 40.1: “Hysteria,” March 2014.
[vi] Bracha L. Ettinger, ‘Matrixial Gaze and Screen: Other Than Phallic and Beyond the Late Lacan’ in L. Doyle (ed.) Bodies of Resistance. Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2001, pp.103-143.
[vii] Bracha L. Ettinger, ‘Matrixial Trans-Subjectivity’ in Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 23 (2-3), 2006, pp. 218-222, p. 218.
[viii] Bracha L. Ettinger, ‘Matrixial Trans-Subjectivity’ in Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 23 (2-3), 2006, pp. 218-222, p. 218.
[ix] Bracha L. Ettinger, ‘From Proto-Ethical Compassion to Responsibility: Besidedness and the Three Primal Mother-Phantasies of Not-enoughness, Devouring and Abandonment’ in Athena (2006), 2, pp. 100-135, p. 101.
[i] Ettinger, B. L., 1992, ‘Matrix and Metramorphosis’ in Differences 4, 176-208, p. 196.
[ii] Bracha L. Ettinger, 2007, ‘Diotima and the Matrixial Transference: Psychoanalytical Encounter-Event as Pregnancy in Beauty’ in van der Merwe, C.N. & Viljoed, H., ed., Across the Threshold: Explorations of Liminality in Literature. New York: Peter Lang and Potchefstroom.
[iii] Bracha L. Ettinger in ‘Shocks of Maternality, Demeter-Persephone Complex and the Journal of Sylvia Plath’ in Journal of Studies in Sexuality and Gender, (paper received for print 2013), Summer 2014.
[iv] Bracha L. Ettinger in ‘Shocks of Maternality, Demeter-Persephone Complex and the Journal of Sylvia Plath’ in Journal of Studies in Sexuality and Gender, (paper received for print 2013), Summer 2014.
[v] ‘Veronica Roberts, a curatorial assistant at MOMA notes the similarity between this image and icons of the Madonna and Child as well as the humorous means by which Kahlo draws our attention the similarity in facial features between her and the monkey. See ‘A Close Look: Frida Kahlo’s Fulang-Chang and I.’ Available at http://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2009/12/03/a-close-look-frida-kahlo-s-fulang-chang-and-i. Accessed 12 March 2014.
[vi] From ‘Notes from Down Below’ in The House of Fear: Notes from Down Below, trans. Katherine Talbot and Marina Warner. London: Virago Press, pp. 163-214, p. 168.
[i] In recent years Bracha Ettinger has chosen to be called by her first name in her artistic practice, see for example, the exhibitions Le Cabinet de Bracha, Musée des beaux-art d’Angers, 2011 and The Room of Bracha, Tel Aviv, 2011. In this paper I follow this lead and refer to the artist-theorist as Bracha.
[ii] Bracha L. Ettinger, Notebook (White, 2012).
[iii]Theodor Adorno, Beethoven: The Philosophy of Music, California: Standford University Press, 1998, p. 126.