The female body in the looking-glass: contemporary art, aesthetics and genderland

Sliwinska, Basia (2016) The female body in the looking-glass: contemporary art, aesthetics and genderland. International Library of Cultural Studies . I.B. Tauris, London. ISBN 9781780766447, pbk-ISBN 9781788311014, e-ISBN 9781786720085, e-ISBN 9781786730084, e-ISBN 9781350988675. [Book] (doi:10.5040/9781350988675)


In his writing on the 'mirror stage', the psychoanalytic theorist Jacques Lacan describes the female body as lacking. However, what happens if one follows Jean Baudrillard's advice to ‘swallow the mirror’ and go through the ‘Looking-glass’ to explore the reflections and realities that we encounter in the cultural mirror? What if the beautiful is inverted and becomes ugly; and the ugly becomes beautiful? These are the fundamental questions Basia Sliwinska poses in this important new enquiry into gender identity and the politics of vision in contemporary women’s art.

Through an innovative discussion of the metaphor of the mirror, or Looking-glass, Sliwinska reveals how the post-1989 practices of woman artists from both sides of the former Iron Curtain – such as Joanna Rajkowska, Marina Abramovic, Boryana Rossa, Natalia LL and Anetta Mona Chişa and Lucia Tkáčová - go beyond gender binaries and instead embrace otherness and difference playing with visual tropes of femininity. Their provocative works are shown to offer alternative representations of the female body to those seen in the cultural mirror. Patriarchal representations of the social and cultural ‘other’, associated with visual tropes of femininity such as Alice in Wonderland, Venus and Medusa, are challenged and deconstructed.

The Female Body in the Looking-Glass makes a refreshing, radical intervention into art theory and cultural studies by offering concepts such as ‘the mirror’ and ‘genderland’ (inspired by Alice’s ‘Wonderland’) as critical tools with which we can analyse and explain recent developments in women’s art.

Item Type: Book
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
Item ID: 20810
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Dr Basia Sliwinska
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2016 09:31
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2020 13:00

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