Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
Damage = Ancient “Cropping”
I just had an ancient art student leave my office. She is writing a paper on how a sculpture of Aphrodite seems like a sexual object to the modern viewer, especially because of the damage which the piece has incurred over time.
I think that this is an interesting argument, and I couldn’t help but think about Laura Mulvey’s discussion of how women in film have been sexualized (and turned into fetishes) by “cropping” women with the film camera. (I’ve written more on this subject HERE.) In this case of the Aphrodite torso, I think one could argue that that damage is an ancient version of the “cropping” which takes place in film. Because the face and limbs are missing, one is forced to look at (and arguably fetishize) the reproductive organs which remain. This is no longer a representation of a woman, but an object.
Can you think of other damaged works of art which “crop” – and therefore further sexualize – the female form? I’m sure that there are lots of them which exist.