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Hovey, Jaime, and . Picturing Yourself: Portraits, Self-Consciousness, and Modernist Style

2006, in: A Thousand Words. Portraiture, Style, and Queer Modernism, Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

Summary: Focuses on the modernist literary portrait in general and on Wilde’s novel in particular. Also contains multiple references to painted portraits. Argues that queer modernist portraits concentrate on dynamic aspects of style and personality, presenting both the sitter’s style and personality and the personality of the artist who renders her. Explores how style becomes another vehicle where a dangerous homosociality can be reduced into a manifestation of the merely particular (and vice versa).

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture, as well as depiction and representation in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

Cleverly framed as a story about a portrait within a portrait, and written by Wilde in part to demonstrate to his artistic nemesis James McNeil Whistler the superiority of writing to painting, Dorian serves to illustrate the central thesis of Hovey's study. Interweaves reflections on Wilde's personal style, his style as an author, the style of the painter and of the painting, the style of the characters in the book, and queer modernist style in general.

Muñoz, José Esteban, and . Performing Disidentifications

1999, In: Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. 1-34.

Summary: The concept of disidentification is Muñoz’ way of capturing the subversion of the token identities assigned by dominant cultural discourse. While this subversion is a common everyday practice for most members of minoritized groups, Muñoz contends that it is in art where it could achieve the political weight that leads to social change. One of the examples Muñoz uses is of gay Latino artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres whose work resists the dominant “representational economy” – it is not explicitly inflected towards and/or recognizable within the traditional symbolic parameters of sexual or ethnic marginalization. In fact, Muñoz sees Gonzalez-Torres’ art as exemplary of “tactical misrecognition,” i.e. the intentional obfuscation of pre-constituted identification. Performance art is the most natural medium for such misrecognition.

Comment: Best used in classes on sexual or ethnic marginalisation, and the social and political function of art, as well as on the social and political context of art.