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Photo/Video Language
& the Feminine

In Selected Works by Eugenia Raskopoulos
Eugenia Raskopoulos, Turn on the Tongue (still), 2000, video, sound, 5:07 minutes, courtesy the artist and Arc One Gallery, Melbourne & William Wright Artists Projects, Sydney


The experience of being outside of the language of the social sphere whilst simultaneously being inside the familial language has long haunted and inspired the work of Greek-Australian artist Eugenia Raskopoulos.

  • Category
    Performance Art, Photography
  • Published In
    This article first appeared in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, 15:2, 2015, pp. 182-194.
  • Year

Photo/Video Language
& the Feminine

The artist’s work interrogates her experience of immigration through language and its displacement. Her work is at once poetic and political as this memory of languages, laid one on top of another, creates a kind of palimpsest, rich with culture and the haunting of histories. Given her position as a female in maledominated cultures, her work also leads us to question how the photographic and video surface can inflect a feminine sensibility. Does the aesthetic of the work bring the viewer closer to a feminine experience of language? A language that speaks the subject in Jacques Lacan’s sense but excludes ‘the woman’ who ‘does not exist’.2 Raskopoulos’ work provides a good case study to explore these ideas because she uses photo-based and video media in a tactile way—exposing the medium as fragile, ephemeral and incomplete.

At its most successful, Raskopoulos’ visual art practice draws our attention to language: letters and words are written on various surfaces and given voice in multifarious ways. At times the words stifle rationality—they become mute—whilst the language of the body is noisy with its being and its longing. Nicholas Tsoutas has argued that in Raskopoulos’ work there is ‘a direct attempt to undermine and subvert [authorised] language’s capacity to exclude’.3 This allows a reading of her work that suggests a feminist inclination to give voice to women who have been historically silenced, but also an exploration of a feminine language, which is a more radical pursuit.4

Raskopoulos is primarily known for her photography and video; however, it would be misleading to categorise the work exclusively in terms of lens-based media because so often the still and/or moving image is situated as an installation within the gallery. There are certainly photographic sequences that stand alone, and there are single- and multi-channel videos that exist as works in their own right, but Raskopoulos often increases the complexity of these works through their situation, or their relationship with other elements. Added to this is the intimacy of her screen works, generated because they are video performances. She often uses her body to create a haptic language, harnessing the sound of the corporeal within her projects. Thus, the oeuvre transgresses the borders between lens-based media, performance art, and installation, and in between the forms there are multiple translations and slippages.

These translations and slippages in form mirror Raskopoulos’ use of translation in her process. While a blanket, unquestioning acceptance of an artist’s own understanding of their work is unwise, in this instance Raskopoulos has clearly considered the materiality of the surface/screen and the context of the words in translation:

Translation is a thread that is continuous within the conceptual parameters of my work. I use translation as a process to cause a physical change in words and images. Through these translations, whether cultural, aesthetic or linguistic, there are conflicts, difficult exchanges and unequal relationships. There is a sense of violence and anxiety when one translates between words and images, and between places and cultures.5

Eugenia Raskopoulos

In La—The (Feminine) (1994), Hélène Cixous says that reason and rationality are the enemy of the feminine, which seeks to sing ‘the abyss’. Of the feminine writer, Cixous says: ‘Her scene of wild writings forever escapes vigilance, armed reason, force, jealousy, death wish... the traps and bites of life’s enemies.’6 Whether consciously or not, Raskopoulos appears to be thinking along similar lines: ‘I am interested in language when it becomes unclassifiable, where rationality fails and what one experiences through the body being a true experience.’7 Although both these statements can be construed as utopian, they give way to a poetics that is at the very least compelling.

Raskopoulos’ video performances conjure Laura Marks’ concept of a tactile epistemology where the body or the skin is asked to think, not through its biological ‘nature’, but through its cultivated sensuous knowledge.8 Raskopoulos—again, whether consciously or not—appears to be engaged with similar ideas, and has cited Roland Barthes as an influence when he said: ‘Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words.’9 Laura Marks writes about a haptic visuality that draws from ‘sense experience, especially touch and kinaesthetics’, and argues that artworks can present images haptically.10 These images do not rely on identification with specific figures, but rather provoke a somatic relationship between the spectator and the image, thus creating a ‘dynamic subjectivity’.11 While Marks’ theory is somewhat abstract, it does open up avenues for a more subjective experience for the viewer. I believe that some of the works of Eugenia Raskopoulos demonstrate a haptic visuality, and that this alludes to a feminine aesthetic.

Figure 1. Eugenia Raskopoulos, Re-departing, 1995, video, sound, 8:37 minutes, courtesy the artist and Arc One Gallery, Melbourne & William Wright Artists Projects, Sydney

Woman | Ritual | Suicide

In Re-Departing, 1995 (Figure 1), the power of a feminine language—of resistance to oppression—is inscribed, via Raskopoulos’ body, onto the landscape to create a forceful yet abstracted narrative. Re-Departing is a single-channel video presented in the context of an installation that consists of 113 small tins glowing with red oil and arranged in the shape of a Greek cross. The room is a memorial. The video shows a woman’s feet in simple black shoes and part of the black dress she is wearing. From the framing we understand that she is wearing the video camera over her shoulder; it hangs freely and captures the ground as she moves very slowly up a hill. The ground is mostly barren with old rocks and some ancient steps. She has returned to Greece to the village of Zalongo in Epirus and is walking up the bluff above the convent to the site where over 60 Souliot women and children jumped to their deaths during the Souliote War of 1803 to escape persecution.12 It is said that the women and children sought refuge at the convent, but when the soldiers came they climbed the bluff and, once there, performed their national dance before they ‘threw themselves together with their children over the precipice’.13

Raskopoulos uses the medium of video to inscribe language as an inside-out form of communication: recalling Laura Marks, the video eye appears to touch the landscape.14 In Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s terms, the eye/the body touches the touched and this phenomenology is like a glove and its fingers.15 This is the feminine: a touching of the other inside itself, a doubling.16 Add to this the language of photography and then video, and the presence is of a past already forgotten. It is a language of then, of events now passed, but gesture is always immediate: a language of a body that is not one.

The work continues: a woman walks up a hill; we see only glimpses of her dress, her shoes. She whispers names to us, which get caught with the wind: ‘Annastasia… Alexandria…Eleni…Polixeni…Zoe…Athina…Andonia…Konstantina… Aphrodite…Krisoula…Maria…Theodora.’ Through the haptics of the video screen and the soundtrack she channels the women who walked the path before her, who sacrificed everything, killing themselves and their own children after their defiant dance routine and plummeting into the abyss over 300 years ago. The video camera scans the land—it is uncontrolled, moving freely with her body as she walks—picking out nature’s fissures and wounds. It is as if the land itself remembers the pathos and the killing. Complex words now appear on the screen: ‘monologism, etymology, pathos, heterogeneous, autonomous, enantiomorph, pausilypon, metronymic, thanatos’. Stamping the scarred landscape with their rationality and their lofty importance, these words fail.

In Re-Departing, the camera literally records the sound of the body moving: the touch of fabric and the wind that brushes over the microphone. It is as if the artist falls with the women: she crashes against the structure of patriarchal language, but refuses to become mute. The work is a memorial to the fallen women but it is more than a mourning project as the strength of the women is championed. The artist refuses to see them as victims—their actions are heroic, they are resistance fighters. Raskopoulos gives voice to this resistance through abstracting the form of video, its electronic eye capturing only fragments of her body (the partial skirt, the shoe), swinging freely to record nothing but the ground beneath her. These part-objects and abstractions are punctuated by the softly spoken names of the women (a litany of the dead), then punctured by the written word. This visual and audible poetics conjures the feminine without being didactic.

Sharing Re-Departing’s theme of female suicide are the 13 photographs that make up the series Dangling Virgins, 1993 (Figure 2). Although these are still, black-and-white and aurally mute images, there are similarities between some formal aspects: cropping, close-ups, abstraction of place, the use of language through names and words, and the framing of the momentum of time. All the photographs are close-up images of young female figures, and some feature a swing in a garden or park. Some of the women are named, suggesting their individuality: Antigone, Aspalis, Charilla, Epicaste, Helen. They are women from Ancient Greece who committed suicide by hanging themselves, a practice that was prevalent in an intensely misogynist culture that considered women to be the property of men. Passed from father to husband, women were ‘excluded from social, cultural, and political life’.17 Six of the pictures in the series have numbers in Greek text and in numerals, a morbid indicator of the number of women who died.

Figure 2. Eugenia Raskopoulos, Untitled no. 11 from the series Dangling Virgins 1992/1993, silver gelatin print, 81.5 x 67.5 cm, courtesy of the artist and Arc One Gallery, Melbourne & William Wright Artists Projects, Sydney

The mise en sc!ene in Raskopoulos’ series is dark and broody, but there are patches of sunlight allowing the hanging figures to cast long black shadows. Names and words cut across each scene—some are legible, others are obscured in deep shadow. In six of the pictures we see the legs and feet of a female hanging from the top of the frame. The other images show details of a swing and a girl. The final shot is captured from below as the girl tips backwards, legs straight in front so that she appears as a flat silhouette flying through the air. She grasps the chains of the swing near the seat as it tips to show the word ‘revenge’ on its underside.

In her 1985 essay ‘Dangling Virgins: Myth, Ritual, and the Place of Women in Ancient Greece’, Eva Cantarella says that in Ancient Greece swings symbolised death by hanging, but that swinging was also performed during female rites of passage, as a fertility rite representing the passage from virgin to bride.18 Indeed, swinging was part of fertility rites throughout antiquity when it was connected to sexual intercourse.19 The swing in Raskopoulos’ work is thus both a symbol of the loss of virginity and death by hanging: the girl swinging in ecstasy may soon hang herself for grief, guilt or shame.20

The link between religious rites and female suicide by hanging is well established by Homer, Sophocles, and Plutarch. Raskopoulos draws our attention to this history by including words that punctuate the portraits of the dangling virgins: en masse, brochos (noose), kick, suicide, aitia (reason or cause for how things are), belt, instrument, and revenge. The words and images come together to tell of the horror of the martyrdom of women to the misogynist patriarchy of Ancient Greece, its gods, myths, and religious rites. Women most often committed suicide because of the death of a male relative, usually father or husband, without whom their identity and being in society was minimal. Women also killed themselves for fear of being raped or after having been raped.21

At the centre of the series is a close-up of the chain of the swing, hanging in a Ushape like a noose, with the word ‘suicide’ written at the bottom. Although this image underlines the narrative for the viewer, the conceptual anchor for me is the image of Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, who hangs herself after the death of her entire family. At the top of the image, the word ‘aitia’ suggests that women commit suicide because they have no other option.22 They punish themselves because they can no longer fit into the patriarchy, having lost their role as wife, sister, mother, etc. Cantarella argues that this suicidal act is a ritual that is embedded in Ancient Greek rites.23 Seen from behind, Antigone appears to be sitting on a swing, her toes just above the ground. In the artist’s representation, she is at the liminal threshold between girlhood and womanhood; ecstasy is soon to be exchanged with death at her own hand, as the once erotic swing becomes the noose. There is a watermark or crack below the knees—they appear to be bandaged but the figure could be ceramic, an already-broken statue. The cracked surface of the light-dappled ground begins to look like skin, as if the figure were entering a parchment: the indexical and historical stain of the female subject in history.24

Language | Word | Body

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

John 1:1 and 1:1425

The empathy the viewer experiences in the suicide works is compelling. Although retrospectively guided by the stories of the women, one is initially drawn to understanding the work through the visuals. The abstracted scenes pull back from narrative resolution, allowing the mind to engage subjectively. Here, a feminine sensibility is encouraged as the eye roams across the light-streaked surfaces and attaches to glimpses of the narrative through the body, names, and words. In the video, the women’s names are whispered across the landscape against a howling wind; in the photographs, words and names are etched into parchment-like material. In the following works, Raskopoulos seeks to undo a more rationalised language by turning her attention to a child’s learning of the alphabet and the sexualisation of words.

Some scholars have emphasised that Raskopoulos’ use of letters and words in Greek, Chinese, Japanese, English, and other languages often speaks to the viewer about borders, boundaries, and crossings. John Conomos argues that the video-based installation Turn on the Tongue, 2000 (Figure 3), is emblematic of Raskopoulos’ interests in ‘the border zones of post-colonial identity, difference, language and hybridity’.26 Although this is certainly the politics of the work, Conomos himself urges that we reflect on the aesthetics of language and speech to which Raskopoulos pays keen attention.

The letters of the alphabet constitute the beginning of a structure for Western languages, but this beginning is already steeped in history, belief, and the body. In the Christian Bible the word is God and God is the word, the word that becomes flesh: this is a masculine deity and a masculine word that is stamped across the body, especially the body of woman. Letters, words, and language provide the tools with which to represent and demonstrate belief, truth, and rationality. The ‘alpha’ and the ‘beta’ blocks of our shared understanding are fundamental in the writing of history. Raskopoulos appears to see within the alphabet the beginning of the downfall of meaning, as language ultimately escapes us and we fail to say what we mean, or we fail to become what we are because language excludes us.

Figure 3. Eugenia Raskopoulos, Turn on the Tongue (still), 2000, video, sound, 5:07 minutes, courtesy the artist and Arc One Gallery, Melbourne & William Wright Artists Projects, Sydney

In Turn on the Tongue the artist experiments again with the phonetics of language, this time sexing up the text with a chorus of whispering that the viewer/listener receives in a secret exchange. Raskopoulos was inspired in part for this work by a passage on identity from Trinh T. Minh-ha, which reads:

...when identity is doubled, tripled, multiplied across time (generations) and space (cultures), when differences keep on blooming within despite the rejections from without, she dares, by necessity. She dares mix; she dares cross the borders to introduce into language (verbal, visual, musical) everything monologism has repressed … The necessity of re-naming as to un-name ...The challenge is thus: how can one re-create without re-circulating domination?27

Eugenia Raskopoulos

The installation consists of a high wall constructed within the gallery and diagonally cutting through the space. At its centre there is a crack, an opening, a fissure, behind which stands a stack of salt blocks. It is as if the architectural structure is in decay, already on its way to ruin. Together, the bricks and the salt create a screen for the video projection. A close-up image of a mouth appears and whispers words in Greek: almost inaudibly the voice imparts a secret to the viewer, so secret that it is incomprehensible to many. Conomos lets us into the secret, saying that the words are from the theme song for the movie Casablanca (1942). I imagine the lines from ‘As Time Goes By’, but feel disappointed that the secret has been revealed.28 I preferred it when I did not know: when she whispered to me alone. But Raskopoulos forecloses the seduction herself as the voice morphs into a mechanical and seemingly male intonation, giving the message a menacing aspect.

A child’s hand appears from the right of the frame and writes in chalk on a blackboard. S/he studiously writes the letter ‘a’ in its Greek form with elongations on the vertical stroke. Nicholas Tsoutas describes the gesture that follows, writing:

The hand falters, slightly withdraws into thinking time, and considers the inscription. Somehow it does not seem quite right, for the letter ‘a’ is ‘perfectly’ written in its Greek form, and the hand cautiously reappears and begins to rub out the curl that differentiates its Greekness, and translates it into the desired intention of the perfect English ‘a’. But in this instance the English ‘a’ carries with it the indelible smear of the rub out. The hand withdraws apparently satisfied.29

Nicholas Tsoutas

We could also see this action as a wounding of one language by the other. The ‘perfect’ Greek alpha is partially erased to make it conform to the ‘proper’ English, the dominant language. The mouth reappears like a horizontal seam connecting the two parts of the brick wall. Projected across the salt line, the voice whispers to us again, this time in Japanese and in English and again as the sexy female voice that morphs into the menacing tone of the male automaton. The child’s hand reappears and slowly writes the Greek letter ‘b’ on the blackboard. Again s/he falters, thinks, and returns to alter the Greek into English. Again the stain of the original language is registered as a smear.

Writing | Index | Void

In Untitled 99/00, 1999-2000, a woman draws with a hand-held torch in the darkness of her studio. Harnessing the magic of the photographic process, she draws our attention to the indexical nature of photography and the metaphors that have accrued to it over time. The early inventors used the word ‘light-writing’ to describe the photographic process, exploring the roots of the Greek phos (light) and graphie (writing/drawing). In doing so they also duplicated the dualism of nature (light) and culture (writing). In this scheme, nature is written through culture. The spiritualist photographers of the nineteenth century were among the first to exploit this conundrum by making photographs where ‘spirits’ had written themselves into the picture. Here, culture writes culture and the indexical photographic truth is established by belief alone.30

Sigmund Freud’s analogy of the analogue photographic process with the working of the conscious and unconscious mind further confounds claims of indexical truth. In this schema, the photographic negative is the unconscious, which may or may not become a printed image, thus entering the conscious mind.31 Following Freud, the unconscious is repressed and is difficult to represent. Like Lacan’s Real (the trauma, the primary wound), over which the imaginary and the symbolic stumble, the unconscious is difficult to pin down.32 Roland Barthes’ concept of the punctum brings all this firmly back into the philosophy of photography, as the punctum—that which pricks only me, a subjective insight—is aligned with Lacan’s interpretation of the gaze. The punctum, like the Real, describes ‘that which is lacking in the symbolic order, the ineliminable residue of all articulation, the foremost element, which may be approached, but never grasped: the umbilical cord of the symbolic’.33

Given that the masters of psychoanalysis and the phenomenologist of photography have been so seduced by the philosophy that photography produces through its material processes, it is logical perhaps that an artist with Eugenia Raskopoulos’ fascinations turns her mind to it. For here, in the musings of men stumbling on the feminine, is the possibility of resistance in the trauma of the Real. This is what Jacques Derrida and others, writing about Barthes’ punctum, call ‘the wound’.34 This may well be where a feminine writing/language tentatively comes into being, especially where the artist exploits the haptics of the media so that the body, its organism and its tactile sense are worked with and worked through the medium. This is clearly evident in Re-Departing, but it recurs in different iterations in other works, some of which appear quite minimal.

Raskopoulos produced Untitled 99/00 after several visits to Japan, where she had become interested in Zen and the practice of enso—the disciplined, spiritual practice of painting circles in ink that is said to reveal the character of its creator. In Japan, the elegant circles symbolise enlightenment, the universe, and the void. But, stumbling over the symbolic, Raskopoulos deliberately draws an oval shape, not a circle: sexing up the text and bending the universal to include the feminine. Here, she plunders the would-be universal symbol of enlightenment and instead insists on the life-giving force of the egg shape: the universe of the womb. In this way, she produces a poetic feminine resistance and a cool meditation on photography as a language structure.

Jacqueline Millner, writing in 2002, charts a path from the narrative, immigration/identity works of the 1990s to the minimal and abstract meditations on language in Untitled 99/00 and Untitled 00, 2000.35 She sees a search for universals here, but I think the universal has been deconstructed to accommodate the feminine other, an identity and a being speaking through the body in the dark, trying to create the ensō but failing, and creating instead the incompleteness of the female body. Having said this, there is one perfect egg shape which suggests that this graphic lightdrawing is not an unconscious slip, but a feminine intervention into the would-be master narrative.

The oscillation between minimalism and narrative is recurrent in Raskopoulos’ work. Shortly after Millner saw a trajectory from issue-based work to a more minimalist style, Raskopoulos presented single-action performance works (In a Word and Weak as Piss, both 2006). But in 2011 she returned again to a minimal poetic with Vestiges, where she explored the indexical qualities of the photographic medium, this time studying Barthes’ idea that photography is a soft violence.

Barthes explains this idea as follows: ‘The Photograph is violent: not because it shows violent things, but because on each occasion it fills the sight by force, and because in it nothing can be refused or transformed.’36 In Camera Lucida (1980), Barthes appropriates Lacan’s theories of the gaze and the Real.37 Lacan is compelling here because not only is the Real a painful intrusion, a trauma, but it is also outside of the symbolic (language, law, culture). As Margaret Iversen notes, this means that ‘the subject…is not exhausted by or subsumed into the symbolic, linguistic, conceptual apparatus of culture’.38 It also means that Barthes, contrary to some interpretations, is not a conventional realist but is aligned with the Lacanian Real.39 The indexical relation that he underlines is indelibly linked to the psychological concept of the Real and its repetition.

Vestiges is about gift giving and the presentation of gifts. Commentators have picked up on an anthropological relation first established by Marcel Mauss, who insists that the person giving the gift puts the person receiving it in debt, thus reinforcing the authority of the giver. For Mauss, gift giving establishes a theory of obligation that precedes financial market economies.40 Although Raskopoulos is clearly pointing to a social and economic exchange, her ripping, tearing, and unwrapping of her birthday gifts, and then the careful handling of each wrapping, suggest more. The wrapping paper has caressed its object and each has the imprint of its other. The positive object, which has now disappeared, can only be remembered by its negative other: the photograph. The literal violence of the action to see, to hold, and to own the object is transformed into these ruptured shrouds carefully displayed for their next life in art. This series of photographs show us a memorial, perhaps an apology for the violence in the giving-receiving relation and an acknowledgement of the structure of power residing there.

Figure 4. Eugenia Raskopoulos, Re-ma(r)king (still), 2010, two-channel digital video, sound, 5.08 minutes, courtesy the artist and Arc One Gallery, Melbourne & William Wright Artists Projects, Sydney

In the dual-channel video Re-ma(r)king, 2010 (Figure 4), we encounter a complex video performance that has a socio-historical narrative. Raskopoulos’ body is initially seen on the left screen from breast to waist. She wears a full-skirted, waisted, brown dress, and slowly winds up a ball of cotton. The camera cuts to her bare legs, between which a crocheted doily is unravelling. On the right screen she rests on her knees and rolls out a small pool of oil which has been poured from above. The soundtrack crackles as if the cotton of the doily is passing directly over the microphone. There is a heart or body beat under this that rolls in as the artist rolls out the oil. She pushes forward with her rolling stick and then comes back to rest in a kneeling position. More oil runs from above and into her pool. At this stage, a kind of Zendrum is heard behind the sound of the cotton and a musical pulse gives an ancient and timeless quality to the action. Here, in the sound, is an ironic retort to endurance performance works. The woman on her knees, engaged in repetitive domestic toil, is given the quasi reverence of a religious ritual, but what the viewer hears is actually a textured soundscape that has been abstracted from the body and digitally enhanced.

The phonics of language, which were experimented with in Re-Departing and Rema( r)king, reappear in Footnotes, 2011, where Raskopoulos is filmed walking fairly rapidly down a set of stairs. The stairs are modern and strung with steel, which allows for a rhythmic drumming sound to be choreographed, probably with the assistance of digital manipulation. A woman descends a staircase. The word ‘onanism’ is written on her toes. The art-historical reference is clearly to Marcel Duchamp and his Nude Descending a Staircase (no. 2), 1912, one of the most noted paintings to be inspired by photography, specifically the stroboscopic effects in Étienne-Jules Marey’s chronophotography. As such, Raskopoulos’ work is timebased, absurd, and, on account of the Duchamp reference, concerned with gender. She takes the master of Dada to task, insisting that he is onanistic, presumably because his bride was stereotypically nude and therefore objectified by the avantgarde artist. As with Re-Departing, the sound in the video is abstracted from the body and the visual imagery becomes haptic as the feet merge together in an increasing pace, making the word difficult to decipher. The physicality of the movement and the visual chaos of the fast-moving feet shifts away from a narrative or symbolic interpretation and insists that the viewer encounter the fragmentation of the body— its physicality as endemic to the meaning of the work. Here, the female feet stamp out their critique of art history, stepping on and through the heroic paternalism of the father of Dada and making the video medium give voice to the feminine. This is not a polemic, it is not ‘political art’ in any conventional sense; it is in its abstracted materiality that the video makes its pronouncements: via the video body itself.


Raskopoulos demands a conceptual and intellectual engagement from the viewer. Lately, following Barthes, she has begun to speak of the soft violence of the photobased medium and uses this as a metaphor to unpack social and cultural issues. Barthes, and before him Lacan (in theory) and the Surrealists (in practice), unpacked this idea. It is seductive and something that Raskopoulos mines in her work, forever pushing the boundary of what the gaze can do across cultures, and at the same time assigning that gaze a sex and insisting on its difference. Eugenia Raskopoulos understands that an artist has the freedom, and possibly the obligation, to undermine the physical and the psychological in terms of the signifier (the physical form of art). Through video and photography she gives voice to a female experience. These mediums, with their negative/positive syntax and electronic pulsation, provide avenues via which the virtual image comes into being. The process itself encapsulates a performative desire and entices the feminine other. In Raskopoulos’ scheme this other is certainly wounded, but the artist gives her the power to speak back. In my mind, these women haunt the photographic surface and the video screen and a feminine sensibility is created by the artist’s manipulation of the materiality of the media.


1. Hélène Cixous, ‘Preface: On Being Interviewed’, White Ink: Interviews on Sex, Text and Politics, ed. Susan Sellers (Stocksfield: Acumen, 2008), xvi.

2. See Jacques Lacan, ‘God and the Jouissance of The Woman’, in Feminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the !ecole freudienne, ed., Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose (London and Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1982), 144.

3. Nicholas Tsoutas, ed., ‘Introduction’, in Eugenia Raskopoulos (Woolloomooloo: Artspace Visual Arts Centre Ltd, 2002), n.p.

4. The debate around a feminine writing, language, and aesthetics has been current within feminism for decades. In the English-speaking world it has been criticised for its essentialism (relying on a biologically determined difference) but the French have continued to explore feminine writing (!ecriture feminine) and the debate is far from over. Luce Irigaray and H!el"en Cixous are among the chief exponents; neither of them can be dismissed as essentialists. Cixous is quick to point out that femininity also exists in men and that it does not necessarily exist in women. See H!el"en Cixous as quoted in White Ink, 22.

5. Eugenia Raskopoulos, as quoted in Huang Du, Image Anxiety: Fourteen Views from the East, exhibition catalogue (Madrid: La F!abrica, 2012), 73.

6. Hélène Cixous, ‘La—The (Feminine)’, ed., Susan Sellers, The Hélène Cixous Reader (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 1994), 59.

7. Eugenia Raskopoulos, as quoted in Victoria Lynn, ‘Eugenia Raskopoulos’, V1DE0 L0G1C, exhibition catalogue (Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2008), 52.

8. Laura U. Marks, Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), 138, 144, 191.

9. Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, trans. Richard Howard (Middlesex: Penguin, 1990), 73.

10. Marks, Touch, 2-3.

11. Marks, Touch, 3.

12. George Alexander, ‘Re-Departing’, Eugenia Raskopoulos, ed. Nicholas Tsoutas, n.p.

13. Ibid.

14.Marks, Touch, 7-12.

15. See especially Maurice Merleau-Ponty, ‘The intertwining— The chiasm’ in The Visible and the Invisible,trans. Alphonso Lingis (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968), 133-4.

16. Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which Is Not One (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), passim.

17. Eva Cantarella, ‘Dangling Virgins: Myth, Ritual, and the Place of Women in Ancient Greece’, The Female Body in Western Culture: Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Susan Rubin Suleiman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), 57.

18. Cantarella, ‘Dangling Virgins’, 60, 64.

19. Ibid., 63.

20. For female suicide in the ancient world see Anton J. L. Van Hooff, From Autothanasia to Suicide: Self-Killing in Classical Antiquity (New York: Routledge, 1990).

21. Elise P. Garrison, ‘Suicide in Classical Mythology: An Essay’, lists the reasons that Greek women committed suicide. She notes that Aspalis, who is represented in Raskopoulos’ series, hanged herself to avoid being raped and that this was common in ancient Greece. See http://www.stoa.org/diotima/ essays/garrison_essay.shtml (accessed January 5, 2015).

22. Aitia denotes a reason or cause that contributes to how things are and have always been—a kind of fate. Under the laws and religions of the Ancient Greek patriarchy, a woman’s fate is to sacrifice herself.

23. Cantarella states: ‘female suicides by hanging are aitia, that is, they explain religious rites, the structure of which is uniform throughout the Greek territory’. See Cantarella, ‘Dangling Virgins’, 58.

24. Jacqueline Millner says that the image of the girl on the swing was overlaid by an image of a wax tablet that was inscribed with the names of women from Greek mythology/history. See Jacqueline Millner, ‘Tongue Trace’, Eugenia Raskopoulos, n.p.

25. John 1:1 and 1:14, see http://biblehub.com/ john/1-1.htm (accessed January 8. 2015).

26. John Conomos, ‘Turn on the Tongue’, Eugenia Raskopoulos, n.p.

27. Trinh Minh-ha, as quoted in Russell Ferguson, Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures (New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1990), 329-30.

28. ‘As Time Goes By’, music and lyrics by Herman Hupfeld, copyright 1931, Warner Brothers, Music Corporation, ASCAP.

29. Tsoutas, Eugenia Raskopoulos, n.p.

30. For an extended analysis of these issues, see Geoffrey Batchen, Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997).

31. Sigmund Freud, ‘General Theory of Neurosis’ (1917), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud 16, trans. James Strachey (New York: Norton & Company, 1962), 294-5.

32. Alan Sheridan, ‘Translator’s Note’, in The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, ed. Jacques Lacan, trans., Alan Sheridan (Middlesex: Penguin, 1979), 280.

33. Sheridan, ‘Translator’s Note’, 280. For a compelling analysis of Roland Barthes’ theory of photography in relation to Lacan’s Real, see Margaret Iversen, ‘What is a Photograph?’, Art History 17, no. 3 (1994): 450-64.

34. See Jacques Derrida, ‘The Deaths of Roland Barthes’, Philosophy and Non-Philosophy Since Merleau- Ponty, ed. Hugh J. Silverman (New York: Routledge, 1988), 191-210.

35. Millner, ‘Tongue Trace’, n.p.

36. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard (London: Fontana, 1984), 91 (Barthes’ emphasis).

37. See especially ‘Tuché and Automaton’ in The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, 53-64.

38. Margaret Iversen, ‘What is a Photograph?’, 452.

39. Ibid.

40 Marcel Mauss, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies (London: Routledge, 1990).

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