On Stellar Rays
Is voyeurism ever nostalgic? Do Peeping Toms yearn for simpler times?Vasistas (all works 2013), the first of two videos in Maria Petschnig’s solo exhibition “Petschnigs’,” certainly raises the possibility. Not so long ago, the privileged text for pop-Lacanian analysis of voyeurism was Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954). Recall Jimmy Stewart, his leg in a cast, dodging the “proper” sexual advances of Grace Kelly by spying on his neighbors, consumed with the suspicionor the fantasythat a husband has killed his wife. There, voyeurism’s instruments are no more sophisticated than binoculars. Vasistas, which is French for “transom window,” harks back to that earlier period, even while acknowledging its passing. Each scene in the video is preceded by footage of a private residence shot from the outside at night. Had Petschnig been following Hitchcock’s playbook, she might have
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