All eyes. All lies. Allies. Reclaiming the female self and challenging the male gaze through the assertion of self-confidence in dance film / Sophie Annen (2020)

All eyes. All lies. Allies. Reclaiming the female self and challenging the male gaze through the assertion of self-confidence in dance film

Author: Sophie Annen

Course: MA Dance Performance

Year: 2020

Abstract

In current society, a female naked body still retains the mainstream culture’s assumption that it does not possess agency and lacks criticality. Even though feminism fought for gender equality in many ways through the course of history, there are still differences between what men seem allowed to do, show, and talk about in comparison to women. This, together with the objectification to which women’s bodies are subjugated through the male gaze and which undermines their self-confidence, are the main concepts at the core of my filmic project and, more precisely, the ones I try to dismantle.

Indeed, All eyes. All lies. Allies is a practice as research project supported by this written thesis articulated around feminist theories ranging from gender studies to film representations of the female bodies. Engaging with the questions that arose during the battle led by female artists during the second wave of feminism and the resolutions found in the following third wave, the project revolves around the discourse of the displayed female body and its agency and re-proposes it in the context of contemporary performance and post-feminism.

In the first Section of this dissertation, I offer an insight into the theoretical framework which shaped and informed my thinking about discourses surrounding womanhood and female identities. After an introduction focused on how women’s perception of themselves and their bodies is being influenced by external expectations and stereotypes in a negative way, I pin-point the main concepts which characterised the so-defined second and third wave of feminism, from which I would like to draw from for my dance film and dissertation. This first theoretical part then continues with a definition of gender, following Judith Butler’s lead, which clarifies my use of terms such as ‘women’ and ‘females’ throughout this thesis. The discourse then shifts towards the investigation of women’s representations in film in the 1970s, starting with the publication of Laura Mulvey’s essay Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema and the analysis of Freud’s theories, which set off the birth of the term ‘male gaze’, through which female bodies are perceived as purely sexual objects. Throughout this thesis, taking inspiration from the works of artists such as Hannah Wilke in the 1970s, I aim to define our intention to subvert this passive reading of the female body through the assertion of self-confidence as a way to access agency and reclaim our bodies from the view that only sees them as a commodity for heteronormative-male gratification.

The second section focuses on the creative and practical process which led us towards the making of the final footage entitled All eyes. All lies. Allies in a chronological order, while expanding on the reasons why I opted for a collaborative approach amongst other ways of working. Moreover, this section expands on how we came to narrow our main interests through the building of different tasks and dialogue: the movement task of “hiding and revealing” appeared to be the more appropriate way for us to control our own bodies from a possible outsider perception which negatively influence us, switching the focus on ourselves and the way we decide to portray ourselves.

The third and last section, divided in two different parts, explores the final themes which forged our creative process and at the same time inspired our thinking, posing them in relation with the theories exposed in the first Section. The first part, beginning with a section named “All eyes”, expands on the two kind of perceptions that we recognised as significant for our identification as females. At the same time, it offers some insights into the ways in which filmmakers such as Rineke Dijkstra and feminist artist Hannah Wilke implemented the use of the camera within their works and how they inspired our project: in Dijkstra’s case, the way she frames human bodies, and in the case of Wilke, the way she commanded her image, which also echoes our aim of being in control and reclaiming our agency as women. Subsequently, in the section “All lies”, I propose a definition of the term ‘stereotypes’ and focus on explaining why these represent an issue for women and how they can affect their confidence. Lastly, the section “Allies” explores the choice of implementing a collaborative approach more in depth, while expanding on the difficulties that we faced and eventually solved thanks to reciprocate understanding and respect. Finally, the second part of Section 3, discusses the decisions I took together with the other dancers, Alice D’Angelo, Giorgia D’Amico and Giorgia Lolli, about the filming and the editing part of the footage All eyes. All lies. Allies. At the same time, it also keeps them in dialogue with the three main thematic threads exposed in the first part of Section 3.

It is thus the purpose of this dissertation to background our final footage with a discussion of how the three dancers and I articulated a practice-based methodology and research guided by the aim of regaining confidence in our own female selves, and to pose them in dialogue with the writings of feminist scholars and practitioners in the context of performance art and film theory

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Metadata

dc.contributor.author
dc.date.accessioned 2021-06-25 02:45
dc.date.copyright 2020
dc.identifier.uri https://researchonline.trinitylaban.ac.uk/oa/thesis/?p=1754
dc.description.abstract

In current society, a female naked body still retains the mainstream culture’s assumption that it does not possess agency and lacks criticality. Even though feminism fought for gender equality in many ways through the course of history, there are still differences between what men seem allowed to do, show, and talk about in comparison to women. This, together with the objectification to which women’s bodies are subjugated through the male gaze and which undermines their self-confidence, are the main concepts at the core of my filmic project and, more precisely, the ones I try to dismantle.

Indeed, All eyes. All lies. Allies is a practice as research project supported by this written thesis articulated around feminist theories ranging from gender studies to film representations of the female bodies. Engaging with the questions that arose during the battle led by female artists during the second wave of feminism and the resolutions found in the following third wave, the project revolves around the discourse of the displayed female body and its agency and re-proposes it in the context of contemporary performance and post-feminism.

In the first Section of this dissertation, I offer an insight into the theoretical framework which shaped and informed my thinking about discourses surrounding womanhood and female identities. After an introduction focused on how women’s perception of themselves and their bodies is being influenced by external expectations and stereotypes in a negative way, I pin-point the main concepts which characterised the so-defined second and third wave of feminism, from which I would like to draw from for my dance film and dissertation. This first theoretical part then continues with a definition of gender, following Judith Butler’s lead, which clarifies my use of terms such as ‘women’ and ‘females’ throughout this thesis. The discourse then shifts towards the investigation of women’s representations in film in the 1970s, starting with the publication of Laura Mulvey’s essay Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema and the analysis of Freud’s theories, which set off the birth of the term ‘male gaze’, through which female bodies are perceived as purely sexual objects. Throughout this thesis, taking inspiration from the works of artists such as Hannah Wilke in the 1970s, I aim to define our intention to subvert this passive reading of the female body through the assertion of self-confidence as a way to access agency and reclaim our bodies from the view that only sees them as a commodity for heteronormative-male gratification.

The second section focuses on the creative and practical process which led us towards the making of the final footage entitled All eyes. All lies. Allies in a chronological order, while expanding on the reasons why I opted for a collaborative approach amongst other ways of working. Moreover, this section expands on how we came to narrow our main interests through the building of different tasks and dialogue: the movement task of “hiding and revealing” appeared to be the more appropriate way for us to control our own bodies from a possible outsider perception which negatively influence us, switching the focus on ourselves and the way we decide to portray ourselves.

The third and last section, divided in two different parts, explores the final themes which forged our creative process and at the same time inspired our thinking, posing them in relation with the theories exposed in the first Section. The first part, beginning with a section named “All eyes”, expands on the two kind of perceptions that we recognised as significant for our identification as females. At the same time, it offers some insights into the ways in which filmmakers such as Rineke Dijkstra and feminist artist Hannah Wilke implemented the use of the camera within their works and how they inspired our project: in Dijkstra’s case, the way she frames human bodies, and in the case of Wilke, the way she commanded her image, which also echoes our aim of being in control and reclaiming our agency as women. Subsequently, in the section “All lies”, I propose a definition of the term ‘stereotypes’ and focus on explaining why these represent an issue for women and how they can affect their confidence. Lastly, the section “Allies” explores the choice of implementing a collaborative approach more in depth, while expanding on the difficulties that we faced and eventually solved thanks to reciprocate understanding and respect. Finally, the second part of Section 3, discusses the decisions I took together with the other dancers, Alice D’Angelo, Giorgia D’Amico and Giorgia Lolli, about the filming and the editing part of the footage All eyes. All lies. Allies. At the same time, it also keeps them in dialogue with the three main thematic threads exposed in the first part of Section 3.

It is thus the purpose of this dissertation to background our final footage with a discussion of how the three dancers and I articulated a practice-based methodology and research guided by the aim of regaining confidence in our own female selves, and to pose them in dialogue with the writings of feminist scholars and practitioners in the context of performance art and film theory

dc.language.iso EN
dc.title All eyes. All lies. Allies. Reclaiming the female self and challenging the male gaze through the assertion of self-confidence in dance film
thesis.degree.name MA Dance Performance
dc.date.updated 2021-06-11 11:20

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APA
Annen, Sophie. (2020). All eyes. All lies. Allies. Reclaiming the female self and challenging the male gaze through the assertion of self-confidence in dance film (Masters’ theses). Retrieved https://researchonline.trinitylaban.ac.uk/oa/thesis/?p=1754