Gender Identification of Spectators: Analysis of Chantal Akerman’s Films

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Mariia Rybalchenko, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine


    Chantal Akerman is a Belgian director of a Jewish origin whose creative career coincided with the middle of 1970’s when the feminist film discourse appeared. Her films are ranked to hyperrealist minimalist style with strong feminist implications. Thus, her films are at the centre of feminist film scholars and are called as a “counterpoint cinema” (using Laura Mulvey’s terminology) or “women avant-garde cinema” because of its specific form narrative, representation of visual pleasure and gender. It is important to emphasize the fragmentariness of today’s feminist film discourse because it is used to analyze the films and its spectators only through presence or absence of woman behind the camera, dominant ideology and psychoanalysis. The question of spectator’s gender identification and impact of what Walter Benjamin called “aura” are out of feminist film analysis today (the concept of “aura” is interpreted here in terms of the recent semiotic description with thick analysis of today’s human social and cultural codes when the volume of information increases radically). Moreover, feminist scholars do not elaborate the interest in exploring a spectator as a concept, including problems of modern aesthetic perception when our spectatorship is no longer politically defined. In a similar vein, the question is: what does now construct our gender identification as a spectator when our perception is not a biological determination or patriarchic construction (here it is important to mark Linda Alcoff who explored the problem of identity crisis in cultural feminism). Thus, the research is aimed to analyze the problem of gender identification of Chantal Akerman’s viewer through revision of today’s feminist film discourse on the topic of feminist counterpoint cinema and elaboration of the modern aesthetic and ideological perception problem.