East Contemporary

transmediale: Bonnie Honig “Embodying Refusal, from the Bacchae to The Fits”

Berlin, 29.01.2021, http://transmediale.de

In this cinema and gender studies talk, Honig takes up elements from three movies (A.R.Holmer, C.Chaplin, L.v.Trier) to show how the body reacts with movements to being fixated by norms and violent gazes. Especially the female body. She sketches a historical arc from the Greek “Bakchantes” to contemporary incarnations of the same motive: Women gone wild, out of control of (oppressive) social norms.

I felt echoes of Foucault´s Madness and Civilization, now applied to the element of bodily ticks, spasms and other “wrong” movements: Who has the power to define correct and wrong movements?

Instead of following some medical symptom-and-cause framework, Honig presented a poetic reading, in which ticks and spasms are interpreted as a liberation from limitations imposed upon individuals, as symptoms not of an “illness” but a misconfiguration of social relations.

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