"What is the moral for pictures? If one could interview all the pictures one encounters in a year, what answers would they give? Surely, many of the pictures would give Chaucer’s "wrong" answers: that is, pictures would want to be worth a lot of money; they would want to be admired and praised as beautiful; they would want to be adored by many lovers. But above all they would want a kind of mastery over the beholder. Art historian and critic Michael Fried summarizes painting’s "primordial convention" in precisely these terms: "a painting… had first to attract the beholder, then to arrest and finally to enthrall the beholder, that is a painting had to call to someone, bring him to a halt in front of itself and hold him there as if spellbound and unable to move." The painting’s desire, in short, is to change places with the beholder, to transfix or paralyze the beholder, turning him or her into an image for the gaze of the picture in what might be called "the Medusa effect." This effect is perhaps the clearest demonstration we have that the power of pictures and women is modeled on one another, and that this is a model of both pictures and women that is abject, mutilated, and castrated. The power they want is manifested as lack, not as possession.”

— W.J.T. Mitchell What Do Pictures Want?. Photographs by Roe Ethridge.

@1 month ago with 63 notes
#Art #Photography #Painting #Portraiture #Theory #W.J.T. Mitchell #Roe Ethridge #Michael Fried #Feminism #Desire #Psychoanalysis #Culture 
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