8 January 2011

An Affirmation

Oh for heaven's sake. Another snowstorm has rolled over Copenhagen. I love winter, I love snow, I love cycling in snow in the winter. But please... give me some hope of summer.

Enter Artuu, with this brilliant photo from the official Cycle Chic Flickr group.

I'm currently re-reading Susan Sontag's brilliant work from 1971 called On Photography. It's a dog-eared volume:
Sign of a Good Book

In it she writes this:

"Poignant longing for beauty, for an end to probing below the surface, for a redemption and celebration of the body of the world - all these elements of erotic feeling are affirmed in the pleasure we take in photographs."


behoovingmoving said...

Mikael, I would have thought Sontag's criticism of the so called male gaze, and the power relation between photographer and subject, would be especially confronting to you. She is saying precisely the things that could sneak up from behind and unravel your enterprise. Although, I suppose, knowledge is power, so you are wise to be reading her. I also sense you're one to embrace life's contradictions. That's you and me both.

Mikael said...

A valid point. Not, however, the backbone of her book but rather a comment in an ocean of her observations.

She often quotes, for example, Diane Arbus:

"I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do - that was one of my favourite things about it and when I first did it I felt very perverse."

The power relation is definately a factor that I experience daily - and that I've never completely become comfortable with.

Like Sontag says:
"Like a car, a camera is sold as a predatory weapon - one that's as automated as possible, ready to spring. ... Like guns and cars, cameras are fantasy-machines whose use is addictive..."

Contradictions are necessary, as I'm sure you agree.

Anonymous said...

Hah!, the perfect man is a contradiction full of contradictions!
Gospel according to me (lem).

Ditlev Norseman-Niszen said...

As The Guardian writes:
"If you feel a little uncomfortable scrolling through image after image of leggy girls snapped as they cycle past, it isn't pervy, he's Danish."

As far as I can see the bike culture of Copenhagen is characterized by people with a high degree of independence and self-esteem. The charisma of the woman riding her bike, just going somewhere, is off cause sexy. But the important thing in this context is not "the male gaze" as it was seen in the old-fashioned feminism. The primary desire here is to create better shared spaces in cities. To humanize them. This is closer to what Bracha Ettinger, in a more sophisticated feminism, calls The Matrixial Gaze:
"What is lost and looked-after is not an object, but a certain type of linking to the other."

Although she is making this clear, being an experienced psychoanalyst:
"The phallic subject with its gaze is unavoidable on certain levels of identity and on many dimensions of reality"
"It is an ethical obligation to recognize the phallic gaze, not in the others, but inside each subject"

Mikael said...

Interestingly, the vast majority of all the copycat Cycle Chic blogs around the world are run by women.

Mikael said...

and women outnumber men on our Facebook group, too.