Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
History of Art
This dissertation examines the written and artistic production of the Israeli-born artist, psychoanalyst, and feminist theorist Bracha L. Ettinger, whose practice of artworking incorporates her theoretical development of the Matrix and Metramorphosis into the act of painting. Ettinger’s work offers a feminist re-negotiation of the terms of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis within the realm of aesthetics and ethics, issues that are universal, yet tied to specific experiences between the I and non-I, the known and the unknown. Ettinger’s theoretical and artistic advancements promote connection rather than separation, expanding borders from the limited social constructions of interaction to the limitless feminine space of the matrixial web. Ettinger, in her series of paintings entitled Eurydice, proposes a matrixial re-working of the mythological figure of Eurydice, moving away from the classical emphasis on separation and loss in favor of connection and retrieval. In Ettinger’s feminist version of the myth, “looking back” is a positive and ethical gesture of remembrance, an act which weaves together the past and the present into the surface of her paintings, and offers an arena for potential future encounters. The porous spaces of Ettinger’s work present passageways which allow the viewer and reader to move through and between the various levels of text and image, theory and art, in a constant shift between modes of production. Ettinger’s ethical aesthetics intends art as a latent space of healing, a borderspace of connections which a repositive, active and aware. Ettinger incorporates text, photographs, India ink line drawings, oil paint, and recycled paper into her artwork, a process of artworking digitally manipulated by her hands and by the photocopy machine that reproduces the grains of photographic images and words. The photographs that Ettinger uses are culled from personal and historical archives, documents which both directly and obliquely reference the traumatic and destructive history of the Holocaust, a practice which I relate to the work of French artist Christian Boltanski. The images that Ettinger employs function as mnemonic prompts within her paintings, urging the viewer to engage in an ethical act of remembrance in the role of what she names the wit(h)ness.
Vigneault, Marissa B. "Expanding Spaces and Porous Borders in the Artworking of Bracha L. Ettinger." PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College, 2009.