Self-portrait as visual artist: Chantal Akerman’s Ma mère rit

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Abstract

Over a creative career spanning almost half a century, the great filmmaker, installation artist and writer Chantal Akerman, who died in 2015, has persistently renewed artistic forms, dissolving traditional genre and media boundaries. This article discusses her photobiography Ma mère rit (2013) in the context of the artist’s wider project of self-representation at the crossroads between different media (film, literature, video art). Special emphasis is given to her decentering of the self through a conflation of subject and object positions, her quest for an authentic language to speak suffering and grief, and the permeability of life and art in the book’s ambivalent verbal/visual interface. Representative of Akerman’s oeuvre as a whole, it will be argued, this hybrid “imagetext” interrogates the frontiers between document and fiction, lived experience and artistic representation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1130-1147
Number of pages17
Journal Modern Language Notes
Volume131
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2016

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