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Becoming-hysterical – becoming-animal – becoming-woman in The Horse Impressionists

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Abstract:

This text presents a reading of Lucy Gunning’s video work The Horse Impressionists (1994), in which five women are filmed whilst neighing like a horse. I will suggest that while this artwork comes dangerously close to reconfirming traditional Western beliefs that women are closer to the animal kingdom, and more prone to hysterical mimetic identification, it also raises questions about the extent to which contemporary art practices can stimulate and manifest ‘becoming’. By deconstructing traditional psychoanalytic accounts of subjectivity, I will explore the interface between two concepts of becoming; Luce Irigaray’s and Deleuze/Guattari’s in relation to The Horse Impressionists. I will propose that Gunning’s video opens possibilities for art practices to work towards corporeal philosophies which pay attention to gendered embodied subjectivity. Philosophies such as these employ mimetic identification strategically and recognize that bodily ‘symptoms’ have validity in and for themselves and need not always be translated into sequential language frameworks.

Keywords: Deleuze/Guattari; Luce Irigaray; Lucy Gunning; becoming-animal; embodiment; feminine

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jvap.3.2.123/0

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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  • The domain of visual art hosts a multitude of artistic forms and practices. The Journal of Visual Art Practice supports research across the entire range of this varied field. The journal engages with the progressive nature of the subject, reflecting upon the changing terrain of art in recent years.
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