PRINT December 1984


AMONG THE TORTUOUS TEXTS of Jacques Lacan, several speak with unusual lucidity and pertinence about the constraints surrounding the very idea of women. In “Encore,” an essay from the early 70s approaching the terra incognita of feminine desire, Lacan speaks “of all those beings who take on the status of the woman.”1 Lacan exposes the problem as one of authority, for “status” is a juridical term, denoting a condition or position with regard to the law. Woman’s supposed “nature,” he implies, is highly unnatural; it is not inherent but assumed (or imposed) from outside. But in another text Lacan goes further, as if to answer our inevitable question about sexual formation: “Images and symbols for the woman cannot be isolated from images and symbols of the woman. It is representation, . . . the representation of feminine sexuality . . . , which conditions how it comes into play.” In a manner radical for feminism, Lacan discloses sexuality as a problem of language.

If this privileging of language is crucial, it is because it calls attention to the way feminism participates in a larger and more encompassing direction, the investigation of cultural constraints. Lacan’s insights coincide with deconstructive theory, which views reality as the effect of systems of representation, as a product of codes authorized and empowered by the Western social apparatus. What is traced in his work is the distance traveled by the decentered subject, subjected to and through language, from the model of the previous period which was defined as unified, autonomous, and self-possessing “master” of its universe. Feminism is seen to exemplify the post-Modernist concern with the production of the subject rather than the Modernist preoccupation with the subject of production. Similarly, as part of a recognition of difference, of previously marginal or excluded discourses, feminism joins post-Modernism in exposing the legitimizing apparatus of Western representation, as it converges on the patriarchal white male.2 As Lacan implies, the problem involves both the assumption of, and assumptions of, status. Or as Mary Ann Doane has remarked, it concerns the delineation of a “place” assigned by culture to women in a network of relations of power.3

In recent years these concepts have been articulated in the practice of a number of women artists, not all of them explicitly feminist. What I want to indicate is the radical split they define between a perspective constellated around the terms “expression,” “identity,” “self,” and “meaning” and one that takes signification as its subject; a move from a personal, idealist viewpoint to one informed by system and structure. Despite divergences, they share a deconstructive thrust, a mission of dismantling the concept of the singular self which a more analytic consideration might stress. Another interpretation might lead us, through a chain of associations, from the centered and unitary subject to its decentered, heterogeneous forms, from essences or metaphysical entities to the varied social forces that determine them—from nature to culture, to employ an age-old opposition.

That our period has witnessed a striking restriction of the natural is hardly a new perception; abundant comment testifies to our artificial environment, defined by the proliferation of signs. Recent criticism, however, links such representations with privilege, exposing their regulation of subjectivity and their complicity with relations of power. Over the past decade an important body of theory has addressed the role of representation in shaping norms of behavior, sexual definitions, and more general effects, such as the regimes of pleasure experienced in the media. Much of this work has been in cinema studies, which has revealed the sexual control exerted through mainstream film; the play of dominance has also been examined in literature, advertising, and art. Central to this project is the work of Michel Foucault, conducted throughout the ’70s on specific discourses that regulate different fields, sexuality most notable among them. Foucault’s endeavor directs us toward the social and temporal limits that condition thought, accounting for the scope and play of meaning and explaining meaning’s vigilance over the interests it guards. It has impelled the recognition that the singular self is not a natural fact but rather an ideological construction,4 produced by the humanist period.

Through a similar logic, feminist thought has questioned the notion of a natural sexuality as a mirage of language, a view of the world produced in and for patriarchy. By a strategy that is both generational and epistemological, women artists have contested a feminine essence reducible to anatomical difference, arguing for masculinity and femininity as psychic categories constructed in language’s flow. The opposition, as Jane Gallop observes,5 contrasts an idealist to a materialist position, setting the subject’s origin in biology against its production in history, in spatially and temporally varying contexts. The idealist “natural” subject pervades feminist politics of the ’60s and early ’70s, underlying its separatist stance, its slogan “the personal is the political,” and its endorsement of a feminine sensibility. Its notion of a creative self underlies its search for authenticity in language, defining women’s art as a reflection of women’s experience, as the internalization of the female body. The humanist emblem of the period is found in the phrase From the Center, which titles Lucy Lippard’s important book (1976) on feminist work. And its timeless and universalizing dimensions impel the metaphors of woman as landscape, nature, Great Goddess and Mother Earth. However, the strategic benefits that are derived from this designation of sex and sexuality as natural, rather than cultural, categories are questionable.

According to Claude Lévi-Strauss,6 the opposition between nature and culture is an elementary structure; it divides what is universal and unchanging from what, being dependent on a system of norms, is capable of variation from one society to the next. In the words of Edward Said, the opposition repeats the terms of a “conflictual economy,” contrasting the vision of domination (demand for identity, stasis) with change, difference—the temporality of history. Not unpredictably, many women artists have objected to a naturalization of sexual difference that repeats established terms of definition, conferring on them an immutability which has been consistent with feminine oppression. Recourse to the idea of a feminine nature, as presumed by the biological view, has had the effect of both mystifying Woman (of consigning her to a realm outside of culture, as the unknowable eternal feminine) and of installing her as an object to be domesticated or “mastered” in the masculine conquest of Nature. As variously noted, the concept of woman as a dark continent to be pacified has an ample history, one that places her within the compass of colonial exploitation. For political reasons, feminists have refused such imperialistic and universalizing reductions. Many women artists have insisted that the female body be placed, as Doane comments,“within quotation marks”—that it not be celebrated, but contextually described.7 They have protested a liberal perspective that in no way accounts for the ideological structures of which discrimination is but a symptom, which leaves untouched the integrated value system through which feminine oppression is enacted. It is with the aim of understanding the construction of sexed subjectivity in language that artists have turned to the theoretical priming of psychoanalysis.

This recourse by artists is not isolated, but belongs within a general movement in the social sciences to seek a model for the development of subjectivity different from the centered humanist model. Psychoanalysis, or one branch of psychoanalysis, has offered an account of the subject’s development through interpersonal relations; the approach is generally associated with a “return to Freud” and, in particular, to Freud as reread by Lacan. Lacan’s theory employs what is most forceful in Freud—his analysis of the construction of the psychological structures of sexuality—using the sciences of linguistics and semiotics, which were unavailable to him. Underlying Freud’s importance is his focus on a primordially alienated subject which will make itself in culture through a continued series of provisional and unstable attempts at unity.

In this manner, as Gallop writes, Freud provides a description of the human being in culture, not of the natural animal, man8—nor of his complement, woman. Throughout his writings there is an insistence that there is no precultural real, no reality beyond representation. In a famous diagram Lacan illustrates this social construction of sexuality, opposing it to the natural version, based on the immanence of meaning:

The first image designates the now-classic model for the linguistic sign as a correspondence between signifier and signified, by which the word substitutes for (stands in place of) the thing. As has been noted, “the only delimitable thing the signifier woman could possibly ‘mean,’” according to this equation, “is the biological female”9. However, in the second image Lacan privileges the signifier over the signified, stressing, in particular, the bar that separates the two terms. For, in that the doors are identical, their meaning is produced only in, and through, signification; as Jacqueline Rose notes, “it is essential to . . . [Lacan’s] argument that sexual difference is a legislative divide which creates and reproduces its categories.”10 The structure of “ladies” and “gentlemen” is imposed from outside—that is, by culture—through the operation of a law which Lacan terms the Symbolic. Each individual must place itself on either side of this divide: one cannot be a subject in any other manner. Sexuality, then, does not come from within, as in the essentialist model, but is the signifier’s “effect”: it is in consequence of the Symbolic.11

Lacan’s diagram, however, is more complex still. For what is salient is not only its delimitation of a structure, but also the specific texture of relations it describes. If we read it correctly, masculinity and femininity are not absolutes, but positions; sexuality has no content in and of itself, but is determined differentially, by reference to another term. In this, Lacan draws on Ferdinand de Saussure, who had criticized the notion of language as absolute reference, describing it instead as a chain that moves from link to link, producing meaning from the relationship between terms.12 Through an elaborate conceit Lacan conflates sexuality with the structure of language, with its polarities of marked and unmarked terms, of presence opposed to absence. If the phallus is the privileged signifier in Western society and the penis its physical stand-in, then woman can only occupy the position of absence, of lack. For Freud, as for Lacan, the presence or absence of the penis is only significant insofar as it already has meaning within a system of difference; it is specific to patriarchy, to its particular attribution of values. And Freud’s genius was to indicate, by insisting on psychic rather than somatic factors, the arbitrariness of the laws by which the initial bipolar drives are channeled into the polar structures of adult sexuality. The repressions revealed in the unconscious demonstrate this arbitrariness, its foundation in a cultural exaction that crosses Western civilization; in the symptoms produced through the unconscious operations we see the hesitance, the “imperfection” of that construction called sexuality.13 Much of Lacan’s late writing is devoted to unmasking the fraudulence of phallic supremacy, revealing its dependence for power on subjection of the other (presence depends on, is a function of, absence); as Juliet Mitchell remarks, the phallus and, with it, the whole edifice of sexual constructions only figure because of what the woman lacks.14 Furthermore, if sexuality is structured in language there can be no fixed identity, for sexuality is continually restructured, revised in discourse. Lacan’s last texts accentuate this instability, insisting on the plurality of positions that crosses language, countering conventional oppositions. But these texts also accentuate the strategies by which the masculine order employs Otherness, or complementarity, to secure a wholeness denied by the inherent partiality of subjecthood—a unity, then, that is a fantasy.

For Lacan the self lacks a point of truth or ultimate meaning to which it might appeal to heal division. What is significant in his own questioning of certainty is its correlation to, and coincidence with, a more general problematization of reference. In the most concise statement of this theme—a massive critique of the metaphysical apparatus underlying Western representation—Jacques Derrida has described our situation as one in which “the central signified, the original or transcendental signified, is never absolutely present outside a system of differences.”15 As with the phallus; the privileged reference or centered self is only a relational construction; its value is determined by its position in a structure whose limits we cannot “transcend.” Or as the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard has written, posing links between sexual politics and metaphysics:

By no means can the question of masculine/feminine relations be reduced to a problem of the division of labor at the heart of the social body. The frontier passing between the two sexes does not separate two parts of the same social entity. Not only is it the border where the Empire comes into contact with barbarians, but also the line of demarcation between an empirical given, women, the great unknown, and a transcendent or transcendental order that would give them meaning. The complicity between political phallocracy and philosophical metalanguage is made here: the activity men reserve for themselves arbitrarily as fact is posited legally as the right to decide meaning.

With the result, Lyotard concludes, that “we Westerners must rework our space-time and all our logic on the basis of non-centralism, non-finality, non-truth.”16

“True” to Lyotard’s statement, the last years have witnessed a critique of signification based on immanent meaning before meaning’s social production. Notable focuses include the inherence of meaning to specific structures of representation (the classical sign, the expressive subject), to narrative modes (such as the Modernist novel), and to the structures of dominant society. Within the latter area the assault on meaning has involved a critique of representation’s ability to attain truth, as well as analysis of the ways in which “truth effects” are produced within discourses that—as Foucault observes—are neither true nor false in themselves.17 Such ideological maneuvers depend on “duplicated representation,”18 by which the idea of reality is taken for reality; they operate through processes of repetition and reinforcement that convey the illusion of universality. Recent art practice has protested this naturalization of culturally fixed meanings as the major support of ideology in society, noting its operation in institutions, norms, traditions, and stereotypes. And it has exposed their appeal to eternality as a function of specific investments. As Roland Barthes wrote, “If power is on its side, [language] spreads everywhere in the general and daily occurrence of social life, it becomes doxa, natural. . . . ”19

For these reasons contemporary women artists have refused to be “identified,” to be reduced to signs within the patriarchal order; notable among projects that question essentialism is Mary Kelly’s Post-Partum Document, 1973–79, a six-section, 135-part work tracing the first six years of her son’s life. As a compendium of materials and personal objects, Kelly’s Document might seem a simple record of a child’s development, following his inscription into language, sexuality, and society. But it is, most importantly, a demonstration of the construction of maternal femininity: through her analysis of the mother-child relationship, Kelly stresses the continuous production of sexual difference within specific systems of representation. The mother-child dyad, the family, the school, and varied other social institutions act to construct femininity in variable configurations, indicating its hesitance, its perpetual instability. Sexuality, Kelly states, cannot be mapped as a category onto biological gender, but is produced within an interdiscursive network.

In the latter part of his life Barthes repudiated much of his early methodology, stressing the implications of psychoanalysis for ideological analysis. In a corresponding way, much work primed by psychoanalytic theory has turned to his example, opposing jouissance or textual “play” to the sign conceived as closure. For Barthes, jouissance was both loss of identity and instability of meaning; pleasure is a function of the subject’s mobility in language, and of the plurality of positions it fills. The concept of jouissance thus implies an economy of pleasure that would account for the multiplicity of sexuality. But it has also been useful in challenging signification’s ideological character, for it is noted that all texts position their readers in relation to the production of meaning, allowing for active participation or literally subjecting them to meaning in an attitude of passive consumption. The argument runs that the closed text is ideology’s prime instrument, serving to perpetuate its contents (Charles Levin: “As we ‘consume’ the code . . . we ‘reproduce’ the system.”)20 and produce normalized subjects, and for this reason some contemporary practice has opposed the expression of any message, no matter how oppositional. The problem is accentuated for women since it is they who, excluded by the structure of representation, usually figure in a subjected position, as passive (and pacified) object. Drawing on the figures of dominant discourse and their attendant power relations, many artists have attempted to erode this “place” assigned by culture to women; notable here are Barbara Kruger’s dislocations of the “mastering” position, as inscribed in mass media texts. Kruger’s deployment of the deictic terms “I,” “me,” “we,” and “you” show that the place of the viewer in language is unsettled, shifting, indefinite, refusing alignment with gender.

Kruger’s terms tally with those of Freud, who resisted the notions of the “masculine” and “feminine” (“among the most confused that occur in science”), arguing instead for “active” and “passive” relations, and connecting sexuality to the situation of the subject. In Dorit Cypis’ work, which employs photomontages, superimposed image projections, and, often, sound, the conventional relationship between viewer and viewed is inverted; the spectator is encouraged to intervene and actively construct the narrative, and elude masculine and feminine roles. Others have investigated positioning from a more analytic view, showing its immanence to the representational structure laid down by patriarchy. Silvia Kolbowski’s use of media images (specifically, images taken from fashion magazines) indicates their address to the viewer in terms of coded body representations, but these representations are only aftereffects, echoes, ghosts of an earlier system. Much of her project depends on a double directive, exploring the masculine attempt to fix woman within a specular system (as object of the controlling gaze) and as object of fantasy (the paradoxically idealized and subjected Other). The sexual direction of visual pleasure which Freud located in the scopic drive is associated, here, with a phallic economy, as it is installed in difference and repeated in its figures (Nature/Culture, Other/One); woman’s visual subordination, like her mystical elevation, is seen as a male project aimed at healing the division inherent in subjectivity.

Throughout Kolbowski’s work the ways in which woman is looked at, imaged, mystified, and objectified indicate her exclusion from representation; denied access to language, she cannot “speak” but is, rather, “spoken.” Several projects, like Model Pleasure III, 1982, articulate the position of the hysteric who, by refusing fixed divisions, oscillates between masculine and feminine, threatening phallocentric order. Hysteria’s political dimension as a resistance to the symbolic has been emphasized in recent theory; it opposes universalizing reduction and the legitimizing function it implies. Hysteria also embodies Lacan’s injunction to “dephallicize,” to assume the phallus critically (and with it, a theoretical position denied to women in Western society), so as to expose the arbitrary privilege on which it stands.

Such re-presentations of representation examine and question their binding constraints; other practices have investigated how these constraints are executed in and through specific apparatuses of representation. In recent years a significant body of theory has addressed the mastering role of the photographic apparatus, exploring how the camera’s falsifying monocular perspective constructs the viewed scene as subject to the central masculine position.21 A sense of controlling individuality, of mastery through technological, legal, and social means, informs the capitalist conquest of nature and, after it, humanity, so it is not surprising to find this perspective inscribed within those reproductive apparatuses—photography, cinema, and television—that coincide with and support the ideology of capitalism. Sherrie Levine, for example, has addressed this photographic theme; much of her work features images of Otherness—nature, women, the poor, the insane22— as they are sighted through the lens of desire and fixed by the masculine “camera eye.” Even when Levine rephotographs a painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, she chooses an image whose emphatic triangular geometry focuses the position of the woman, accentuating her domination within, and through, the visual field.

Attention has also turned to the psychic effects of the photograph’s visual allures—to the shimmering surfaces that recall the mirror stage, as recounted by Lacan, echoing our first mis-recognition of unity. Lacan calls such instances of false unity the Imaginary, and locates in them the sites of identifications by which subjectivity is constructed. The illusory coherence it offers has made the Imaginary ideology’s aid, and its inherence in images has primed awareness to photography’s role in social normalization. Thus when Sarah Charlesworth examines the seductive powers of photographed images in a recent series, “Objects of Desire,” 1983–84, the practice extends her exploration of the visual modalities inherent in the photograph. Glistening laminated surfaces bound by lacquered frames contrive a specular brilliance, creating images of images, exaggerations of the effects we attribute to photographs. Within them, a scarf, a mask, a bombshell-blond shock of hair present “. . . the forms and postures of seduction—the shapes, forms or gestures,” as the artist remarks, “that are the exterior trappings of identity23 Such partial objects function as fetishes, elements to which desire attaches to fulfill a fantasy of wholeness. Furthermore, as Charlesworth adds, they are “embodiments in a social ‘attitude’”—the configurations of desire accounting for the (always historical) perpetuation of norms. But desire is not caused by objects, but in the unconscious; it can only be known through its displacements, through the substitutions it endures. Consequently, fetishism in its various forms only serves to repeat and reactivate the one, and primary, fantasy. What is at stake in our fascination with photographs, the artist seems to imply, may be their ability to restage (replay? re-present?) a fundamental striving for unity.

This inquiry into the system of sexuality is not confined by medium, as feminist work on literary narrative suggests. “In high school sex was a war, a conventional war about the conventions,” writes Lynne Tillman in Haunted Houses, a novel-in-progress devoted (like her other work) to exploring the construction of sexual experience. When Tillman collaborates with Sheila McLaughlin, she joins a host of women filmmakers (Sally Potter, Bette Gordon, and Candace Reckinger among them) in challenging cinema’s implication of image and code. Video as well contains a significant roster, including Dara Birnbaum and Judith Barry. Birnbaum’s Wonder Woman and Barry’s Casual Shopper24, for example, are figures of narcissism, the one “the phallic mother” of television spectacle, the other the ideologized consumer seeking personal completeness, and libidinal pleasure, through the purchase of material objects.

In its psychic and economic parallels, Barry’s project suggests the existence of a total economy like that described by Hélène Cixous: “an ideological theater where the multiplication of representations, images, reflections, myths, identifications”25 points to the phallus’ sovereign power. Current practice has attended to this “insinuation” of politics into the “tissue of reality,” where it comprises a network traversing the social body.26 Significant, here, is Kolbowski’s recent work, which explores the displacement of difference into advertising logos, illuminating the sexual investment of lines, forms, and supposed voids in (male) space. We find this approach, as well, in the links exposed by Kruger between women and money (Woman as Capitalized, as object of exchange) as sublimations of masculine interests. Most importantly, the approach argues, as Julia Kristeva remarks, the impossibility of sociopolitical transformation without a change in subjectivity, in our relations to constraints, to pleasure, and to language and representation themselves.27

Among women’s projects that do not address sexuality but explore the dimension of social prescription, several deserve mention. Annette Lemieux, for example, has studied state and institutional signs which elicit universal meanings, while Nancy Dwyer’s work explores the subject’s construction through material codes. For Dwyer, our most pedestrian responses are consequences of the signifier, of the languages of corporate capitalism (in one case) or urban racial strife. Forms, substances, colors develop the parameters of psychic space: black lacquer and leather, for example, speak a dialect alien to the subway formica drone. This sense of external regulation is strongest in work by Louise Lawler, who would challenge the very notion of the artistic text by indicating its dependence on institutional factors for meaning. Lawler’s “arrangements of arrangements”—photographs showing artworks as they are privately, commercially, or institutionally displayed—point to the conditions surrounding the reading of art; they inquire into the role of placement or position in meaning’s production, into the specific social inscription of the work. Meaning, Lawler implies, comes not from within, but from without. Nor is it fixed (natural? true?) but variable, cultural, a historical formation. And in this questioning of meaning’s autonomy we recognize a dagger directed at a tenet of Western esthetics: that artworks are unified structures, enduring objects, expressions of the creative subject.

Considered within contextualist practice in general, Lawler’s art suggests the implications of a perspective based on historical constructions and definitions; contesting the authority of categories, its premises collide, and coincide, with current feminism, which would find in it an analogue to woman’s construction in relation to a complex of social texts. In a recent installation Lawler extended her approach, considering the multiple factors that determine art’s reading within an interdiscursive network. Not only institutional and architectural context are questioned in these works, but also titles, labels, descriptions of materials—the shards of language that impose meaning, anchoring the inherent plurality of the text. Lacan might call it attention “to the letter”—to the material products of language rather than to their essentialized “spirit.” Within these surroundings, determined by culture, the question of origin recedes, as in retreat, toward a vanishing point established by ideology’s eye.

Kate Linker is a freelance critic who lives in New York.



1. Jacques Lacan, Encore, Seminar XX as cited in Jacqueline Rose, “Introduction—II” in Juliet Mitchel and Rose, eds., Feminine Sexuality. Jacques Lacan and the école freudienne, New York and London: WW. Norton and Co. and New York: Pantheon, 1982, p. 27. All other quotes from Lacan, including the following from “Guiding Remarks for a Congress on Feminine Sexuality” (1958) are derived from this source.

2. For a discussion see Craig Owens, “The Discourse of Others: Feminists and Postmodernism,” in Hal Foster, ed., The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, Port Townsend, Wash.: Bay Press, 1983, pp. 57–82. For a treatment of questions of representation in general see my “Representation and Sexuality,” Parachute, no. 32, Fall 1983, pp 12–23.

3. Mary Ann Doane, “Film and the Masquerade: Theorising the Female Spectator.” Screen 23, nos. 3–4 (September-–October 1982), p 87.

4. The formulation is an adaptation of Cohn Mercer’s. See “A Poverty of Desire: Pleasure and Popular Politics” in Formations of Pleasure, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983, p. 98.

5. See Jane Gallop, The Daughter’s Seduction: Feminism and Psychoanalysis, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982, pp. 1–4.

6. See Leo Bersani, “Sexuality and Aesthetics,” October 28 (Spring 1984), p. 27. My citations in this paragraph depend on a series of readings of specific texts, notably Claude Lévi-Strauss as read by Jacques Derrida in “Structure, Sign, and Play,” Richard Macksey and Eugenio Donato, eds., The Structuralist Controversy, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1972, p. 253; and Edward Said as discussed by Homi Bhabha in “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse,” October 28 (Spring 1984), p. 126.

7. Mary Ann Doane, “Woman’s State: Filming the Female Body,” October 17 Summer 1981. p. 24.

8. Gallop, The Daughter’s Seduction, p. 3.

9. Gallop, p. 11.

10. Rose, Feminine Sexuality, p. 41.

11. Stephen Heath, The Sexual Fix, London: Macmillan, 1982, p. 154.

12. Rose, “Sexuality in the Field of Vision,” essay in Kate Linker, ed., Difference: On Representation and Sexuality, catalogue published by the New Museum, New York, in conjunction with exhibition of the same name, December 1984–February 1985.

13. Ibid.

14. Mitchell, in “Feminine Sexuality: Interview with Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose.” m/f, no. 8, 1983, p. 7.

15. Derrida, op. cit., a 249.

16. Jean-François Lyotard. “Some of the Things at Stake in Women’s Struggles.” Sub-Stance, no. 20, 1978. Reprinted in Wedge, no. 6, Winter 1984, pp. 28–29.

17. Michel Foucault, “Truth and Power,” in Meaghan Morris and Paul Patton, eds., Michel Foucault. Power, Truth, Strategy, Sydney: Feral Publications, 1979, p. 36.

18. See discussion by Josué V. Harari in “Critical Factions/Critical Fictions,” Harari, ed., Textual Strategies Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979, p. 52.

19. Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, New York: Hill & Wang, 1975; quoted in Cohn Mercer, “A Poverty of Desire . . . ,” p. 82.

20. Charles Levin, introduction to Jean Baudrillard, For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, St. Louis: Telos Press, 1981, p. 5.

21. For a discussion of this photographic construction of subjectivity see Victor Burgin, “Photography, Fantasy, Fiction,” in Burgin. ed., Thinking Photography, London: Macmillan, 1982.

22. Owens, p. 81n.

23. Sarah Charlesworth, interview with David Deitcher in Afterimage, Vol. 12, nos. 1 and 2, Summer 1984, p. 17

24. As presented in Birnbaum’s Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman, 1978–79, and Barry’s Casual Shopper, 1981.

25. Hélène Cixous, “Sorties,” in Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron, eds., New French Feminisms, New York: Schocken, 1981, p. 96.

26. Foucault, Discipline and Punish, New York: Vintage Books, 1979, pp 25–26.

27. Julia Kristeva, “Women Can Never Be Defined,” New French Feminisms, p. 141.