Violence of representation – representation of violence
in Over her dead body
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Between February 1914 and January 1915 the Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler made over seventy sketches, gouaches and oil paintings of his mistress Valentine Gode-Darel, as she was dying of cancer. Hodler's sketches and paintings meticulously document the progress of her illness. This chapter discusses an aspect of our culture's need to ground theoretical and aesthetic representation on the displayed 'erasure' of the feminine. By addressing the issue of how different discourses, depending on their epistemological and political interest, in turn represent the interrelation between death, femininity and aesthetisation, the chapter talks about representations of feminine death. Within particular theoretical frame Hodler's representations of a dying and dead feminine body, a dynamic interplay with violence can be seen. While one image could conceivably have a stabilising, securing effect, the sequence exemplifies how the violence of the real is translated only precariously into representations.

Over her dead body

Death, femininity and the aesthetic

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