‘[…] the female body’s bounty and its ardour, often denoted by the bare breast, has been seen to possess the energy a society requires for the utopian condition, lawful liberation. But it has done so only by recapitulating the ancient and damaging equivalences between male and culture, female and nature. Otherness is a source of potential and power; but it cannot occupy the centre.’ Marina Warner, Monuments and Maidens
Yesterday I had an exciting conversation with the editor of feminist arts and culture magazine, Collage. The upcoming issue will focus on women and revolution and I’ve decided to write a piece about the feminine and the female body in the French Revolution.
At University I wrote an essay about the writer Helen Maria Williams and her account of the French Revolution, written in epistolary form as a political commentary. My work focused on the feminisation of politics – the Marianne of the French Republic and Delacroix’s Liberty, and Williams’ portrayal of the guillotine as ‘political amphitheatre’ as she wrote up countless portraits of France’s political women at the moment of their execution.
I’m looking forward to revisiting the topic to think about women’s bodies in politics and drawing on some new and diverse material. I’ve started off with a little research into contemporary politics, in particular Louise Mensch and Silvio Berlusconi’s lady politicians. I’m also wondering if I can fit Ian Hamilton Finlay’s obsession with the French Revolution in somewhere.
Another exciting project.