Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons, 1974, Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen
Laura Mulvey im Filmmuseum 2008 (Foto: ÖFM © Sissi Makovec)

Laura Mulvey
Retrospective and Carte Blanche

November 16, 2023 to January 8, 2024
In a comprehensive retrospective, the Film Museum honors a feminist whose importance as a filmmaker has always stood in the shadow of her prominence as a theorist. With the essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (1975), Laura Mulvey laid the groundwork for a new structuralist-psychoanalytical theory of film, repairing the blind spots of the Screen theorists (McCabe, Heath, Metz). For Mulvey, our eager viewing of seamless Hollywood storytelling is originally related to patriarchal power differences: men look and women are looked at, men act (as heroes, seducers, murderers), women are an aesthetic spectacle (as adventure trophies, the seduced, victims). Mulvey did not carry out this feminist analysis empirically (as Molly Haskell did) but found an analogy in the development of human desire and voyeurism: without Schaulust (scopophilia), no (hetero)sex.
As the most-quoted essay of 20th Century cultural history, "Visual Pleasure" now stands as an obstacle in the way of Mulvey's extraordinary filmmaking, an unrivaled project implementing her feminist-political call to replace sexist viewing habits with the spectator's passionate detachment. Mulvey's feature, essay and documentary films, which she often co-directed with Peter Wollen, place the female subject in the center and are captivating for their choice of characters (mythical, real, forgotten women from history) as well as for how they are told: a deconstructive film practice ripe for exploration and research. What an exciting viewing adventure! (Andrea B. Braidt / Translation: Ted Fendt)

With Laura Mulvey in attendance from November 16 to 18, 2023
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