The Magic Mirror Sees Black and White


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Electronic Music Score recorded, composed and mixed by Elise Kermani, 2019.
Concept, Performance, Video by Evelin Stermitz.

Mirrors have long been associated with female knowledge and power, and mirrors can be fruitfully used to think about how the fantastic represents and responds to everyday experience. The centrality of the magic mirror allows the doubled, divided, or multiplied self that reflects women's psychological experiences to be fully portrayed.
The mirror was a driving metaphor for Luce Irigaray, whose 1974 book, the one that got her expelled from Lacan's circle, was entitled 'Speculum of the Other Woman', punning on the use of the word 'speculum' to mean 'mirror'. Irigaray continued to work with this metaphor also in further writings such as 'This Sex Which Is Not One'. Simultaneous with the rise of second-wave feminism, Lacan's mirror stage and issues of the internalized male gaze described through the metaphor of the mirror by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar in 'The Madwoman in the Attic', the mirror became a highly significant issue during the 1970s. With Naomi Wolf's book 'The Beauty Myth', the question of appearance as a feminist issue took on new urgency, and so was the age-old relationship between women and mirrors interrogated anew within 1990s feminism. The mirror doubles the boundary between the subject and object, self and other, I and not-I. The mirror emerges as a potent source of self-creation, magic, and ultimately story-telling itself. Contemporaneous theory argues that the mirror becomes a symbol of telling stories through a feminine subjectivity that is characterized by permeable ego boundaries and connection with others, as well as with the alienation from the self under conditions of patriarchy. The mirror's - and fantasy's - illusion of another world, identical and yet opposite to ours, creates a space for expressing the lived experiences of women and envisioning the feminist change necessary to improve those experiences.

(Source: Veronica Schanoes, Fairy Tales, Myth, and Psychoanalytic Theory: Feminism and Retelling the Tale. Routledge, 2016)



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