Narrative and Aesthetic Responses to Gender and Power
The project funded by a Individual Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship looks at affirmative narratives and aesthetics across post-cinematic arts (including gallery films, VR, AR, and locative videos) and their relations to gender, power and the status quo.
The goal of the project is to determine how post-cinematic arts counteract and aim to change current gender norms through affirmative narratives and aesthetics.
By analysing post-cinematic critical engagements with issues of gender and power, I examine how post-cinema reframes gender norms in an affirmative manner. Rather than being 'natural' or neutral, gender is a social construct inflected with layers of meaning, affect and power. Gender manifests as norms that are 'performed' and reiterated (mostly unconsciously and on a daily basis) through the ways we dress, interact and behave in different spaces and social environments. As attempts to shift the power imbalance between genders, feminist films, television series and social campaigns have often opposed the binary associations between gender and space (men/women, public/domestic). While feminist narratives are often created through negation and opposition, this project takes affirmative narratives and aesthetics as starting point.
In contrast to narratives that lament women's lack of (political, spatial, social) power compared to men, affirmative arts produce models of gender and power that are fluid and in constant transformation rather than embedded in dichotomies. Following philosopher Rosi Braidotti's work on 'affirmative ethics' (2006), this project defines affirmative arts as using the limitations to our 'freedom' as a foundation for creating alternative futures, or in other words proposing solutions for enhancing our political, social, spatial freedom. Instead of presenting characters that are alienated by the negative effects of gender norms and power on their actions, affirmative films counteract gender and power through what Braidotti (2011) calls 'micropolitical instances of activism'. As I demonstrated in my doctoral dissertation, these are visible both in the narrative (the characters are wilful to change their gendered and disempowered conditions) and in the aesthetic of the film (filmic forms such as camera work, editing and sound creating a world that affect the spectator positively by opening up possibilities of change and reconfiguration of gender and power).
2018-2021: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (Individual Fellowships Call: H2020-MSCA-IF-2017): grant number 800259
Dataset of Affirmative post-cinema (work in progress)
Affirmative Feminism Seminar Series: Production, Representation, Curation in the Film Industry, Online, 2021
Workshop in VR about VR, ELO Conference, 2020
Affirmative Aesthetics and Wilful Women: Gender, Space and Mobility in Contemporary Cinema
Palgrave Macmillan, 2020
An affirmative look at a domesticity in crisis: Women, Humour and Domestic Labour during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Feminist Media Studies, 2020
Walking, Haunting, and Affirmative Aesthetics: The Case of Women without Men
Aniki: the Portuguese Journal of the Moving Image, 2020
Most recent publication (forthcoming):
Virtual Reality (VR) storytelling, particularly in its non-fictional modes, promises a sensory immersion among others whose lives and ways of being a privileged viewer might not otherwise experience. In this article, by focusing on Traveling While Black, the Emmy-nominated 2018 VR film, we explore how the immersive power of VR storytelling can enact ethnographic encounters premised less on the impulse to extract meaning from other people and their ways of life, than on the sensory and affective force of being with others in an unfolding experience of both similitude and difference. Without wishing to overstate VR’s empathy-inducing potential, we suggest that by situating viewers at a paradoxical threshold between proximity and distance, the affective power of VR derives in part from a narrative form capable of fostering non-appropriative relations.
Ceuterick, Maud, and Chris Ingraham. Forthcoming 2021. 'Immersive Storytelling and Affective Ethnography in Virtual Reality'. The Review of Communication 21(1).