Walking, Haunting, and Affirmative Aesthetics: The Case of Women without Men

Abstract (in English): 

Walking and ‘haunting space’ have become means of political and aesthetic resistance to the invisibility or inhospitality that women face in the public sphere. Power imbalance in spatial habitation—‘power-geometry’ in Doreen Massey’s terms— negatively affects women, just as shown in an Iranian context in Shirin Neshat’s film Women without Men (2009) and through feminist social movements such as #mystealthyfreedom. As these women wilfully assert themselves against their exclusion from certain places, they challenge the binaries public/private, men/women, and mobility/stasis both politically and aesthetically. Ghost characters and haunting narratives disrupt the linearity between dead and alive, virtual and actual (following the works of Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze respectively), and open up possibilities that challenge the status quo. Through a micro-analysis of Women without Men, this article reveals that shapes, structures and lights participate to dismantling gendered norms, expectations, and power-geometries. Both the magical realism of the film and an affirmative analytical approach invite to seeing beyond the negativity of narratives and unveil alternative conceptions of space, gender and power.

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Maud Ceuterick