chapter  8
Visual Cultures: Feminist Perspectives: Rosemarie Buikema and Marta Zarzycka
ByROSEMARIE BUIKEMA, MARTA ZARZYCKA
Pages 16

The relentless increase of reproducible images often gives rise to complaints that we are being ‘bombarded’ with them. This quasi-military vocabulary echoes the alleged aggressiveness of the visual culture that is enforcing itself upon us (Sturken and Cartwright 2001). Since the 1970s, feminist art critics and scholars in particular have problematised the omnipresence of sexualised, and yet mythologised, female bodies both in the media and in artistic practice, claiming that the tradition of meaning assigned to gender, race and ethnicity is not given, but constructed, and that these constructions take specifi c visual forms (Nochlin 1970; Parker and Pollock 1981). The underlying conviction of feminist theory has always been that to be able to change the lives and material circumstances of women, we need an alternative imagery with which to identify, as well as alternative modes of making, seeing and interpreting visual culture and its institutions (Pollock 1999; Reckitt 2001). Today, the training in gender sensitive readings of images in general and of images representing women in particular constitutes a broad fi eld of feminist practices. While feminist cultural theorists aimed at deconstructing the idealist concept of representation as an unmediated, transparent practice, postcolonial scholars argued forcefully against the Eurocentrism that pervades many discussions of the visual (Shohat and Stam 1994). Together they challenge traditional ways of seeing as well as the hegemonic character of dominant patriarchal and colonial canons.