The Pleasure and Politics of Looking: Film, Gender and Aesthetics

A four-day event with a conference, film screenings and artist talks.

12 - 15 March.

The Pleasure and Politics of Looking: Film, Gender and Aesthetics


The Pleasure and Politics of Looking: Film, Gender and Aesthetics is an international four-day event taking place on 12-15 March, 2015, in Oslo. The event is interdisciplinary with an ambition to connect the fields of film, art, and academia.

The Politics and Pleasure of Looking comprises a conference with an extended film program that aims to re-think how desire, intimacy, gender and politics are manifested in contemporary film arts. How does the medium of film create subjects who look, desire and identify in certain ways? How and when is our gaze on film gendered? And what roles do aesthetics, media and technology play in such a process?

Identification and structures for desire were prominent themes in seventies’ and eighties’ Anglo-American feminist film theory, as witnessed by Laura Mulvey’s by now legendary essay on the male gaze, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975), Mary Ann Doane’s The Desire to Desire: The Woman’s Film of the 1940s (1987) and Teresa de Lauretis’ Technologies of Gender (1987). Similar themes were explored by artists and filmmakers too, such as Lynn Hershman Leeson, Chantal Akerman, Babette Mangolte, Harun Farocki, and Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen. The ambition of The Pleasure and Politics of Looking is however not to predominantly return to the discourses and debates of the seventies and eighties. Rather, it seems more relevant to re-think the profound legacy of these films and theories in order to shed light on contemporary discussions of identity and gender politics, as well as examine how film, the avant-garde, technologies, and the visual arts more generally form and challenge ideas of queer and straight sexuality, gender and identity.

Today several filmmakers, artists and academics have updated the themes of gender, desire and film in their practice and conceptualizations. Norwegian discussions about film and gender have been dominated by arguments about representations and percentages of women on and off screen, and less interested in exploring the structures of identification and desire that are facilitated by the form, materiality and aesthetics of film. These are concepts The Politics and Pleasure of Looking wants to explore.

The conference and film screenings at UKS are free and open to everyone. Registration is required for the conference (includes lunch and coffee). To register please send an email to by 10 March. Full program and tickets for the screenings at Cinemateket can be found on their web site. 


Confirmed Speakers

Patricia White (Chair of Film and Media Studies, Swarthmore College), Gary Needham (Senior lecturer, department of English, Culture, and Media, Nottingham Trent University), Susanne M. Winterling (The Academy of Fine Arts, Oslo National Academy of the Arts), Knut Åsdam (artist/filmmaker, Oslo), Sara Eliassen (artist/filmmaker, Oslo), Lene Berg (artist/filmmaker, Berlin and New York), Michel Auder (artist/filmmaker, New York)


Full Program


Cinemateket Screening

19.00 Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975, dir. Chantal Akerman) with an introduction by Patricia White.



UKS Conference

09.00-09.30 Coffee

09.30-09.45 Welcome

09.45-11.00 Patricia White (Professor, Swarthmore College): The Horizon of Women’s Cinema

11.00-11.15 BREAK

11.15-12.15 Screening: A Blank Slate + conversation with Sara Eliassen and Patricia White

12.15-13.15 LUNCH

13.15-14.00 Susanne Winterling (Professor, The Academy of Fine Arts, Oslo) in conversation with Peter J. Amdam (curator and critic): Biodiversity as a Guide: on Political and Aesthetic Questions of Abandoning the Nature/Culture Divide

14.00-15.00 Gary Needham (Senior lecturer, Nottingham Trent University): Cruising: Another Way of Looking

15.00-15.20 BREAK

15.20-16.20 Knut Åsdam (artist/film-maker): That's some looking!

16.30-17.15 Roundtable conversation

17.15-18.00 RECEPTION


Cinemateket Screening

18.00 Teknolust (2002, dir. Lynn Hershman Leeson) NB! Mark the time (not 19.00 as previously advertised)



UKS Artist talks and Screenings

12.00 Dirty Young Loose, Lene Berg (2013), 

          Artist talk with Lene Berg and Gary Needham

13.00 Olympic Variations, Michel Auder (1984)

          Artist talk with Michel Auder and Gary Needham

14.00 Abyss, Knut Åsdam (2010)

14.45 Lovely Andrea, Hito Steyerl (2007)

15.15 Scorpio Rising, Kenneth Anger (1963)

15.45 Secret screening (melodrama/ plastic figures/ disaster)


Cinemateket Screenings with film introductions

17.00 All That Heaven Allows (1955, dir. Douglas Sirk) with an introduction by Gary Needham 

19.30 Peeping Tom (1960, dir. Michael Powell) with an introduction by Patricia White



UKS Screenings

Dirty Young Loose, Lene Berg (2013) 32 min

Abyss, Knut Åsdam (2010) 43 min

Olympic Variations, Michel Auder (1984) 25 min

Lovely Andrea, Hito Steyerl (2007) 30 min

Scorpio Rising, Kenneth Anger (1963) 28 min

Secret screening (melodrama/ plastic figures/ disaster) 43 min


The films will be screened 12 - 5 pm, following the order above. 


Cinemateket Screening with film introduction

19.00 Anatomy of Hell (2004, dir. Catherine Breillat) 




The conference and film screenings at UKS are free but registration is required for the conference (includes lunch and coffee/tea). To register please send an email to by 10 March.


The Pleasure and Politics of Looking is a collaboration between Wuxia, UKS, Cinemateket, and the University of Oslo. It is organized and curated by Sara Eliassen (artist/filmmaker, Oslo), Maria Moseng (PhD research fellow, University of Oslo, and Wuxia editor), Sara Orning (lecturer and researcher, University of Oslo), and Sara R. Yazdani (PhD research fellow, University of Oslo, and art critic).


The event is supported by Fritt Ord, Imag(in)ing Technologies at the Department of Media and Communications, University of Oslo, the Centre for Gender Research, University of Oslo and NFI Filmkulturelle tiltak.





Patricia White is a scholar of feminist film and professor and chair of Film and Media Studies at Swarthmore College. Her book Women’s Cinema/World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms has recently been published by Duke University Press. She is author of Uninvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability (Indiana University Press) and her articles  have appeared in Cinema Journal, GLQ, Screen and in the edited collections Inside/Out and A Feminist Reader in Early Cinema, among others. She is co-author with Timothy Corrigan of The Film Experience (Bedford St. Martin’s 4th ed. 2014) and co-editor with Corrigan and Meta Mazaj of Critical Visions in Film Theory. She serves on the board of the non-profit feminist media arts organization Women Make Movies and is an advisory editor for Film Quarterly and the feminist film journal Camera Obscura, where she served for many years as a member of the editorial collective.


Gary Needham is senior lecturer in the department of English, Culture, and Media, Nottingham Trent University where he teaches film and visual culture. He has broad research interests in film, art, and visual culture. He recently co-edited Warhol in Ten Takes for the British Film Institute and he is the author of a book on the film Brokeback Mountain (E.U.P. 2010) and co-editor of Queer TV: Histories, Theories, Politics (Routledge, 2009), and Asian Cinemas (E.U.P, 2006). He is associate editor of the journal Film, Fashion, and Consumption (Intellect) and is currently working on a book for Bloomsbury on Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick in relation to acting and performance in underground cinema.


Susanne M. Winterling is an artist who lives and works in Oslo und Berlin. She studied Philosophy/Art History in Tuebingen and London (aesthetics, feminist film and critical theory and philosophy of consciousness),  Fine Art  in Hamburg and Braunschweig till 2005, founding member of the Akademie Isotrop (Founded in 1996 a collective of Hamburg artists, conceived as an experimental learning environment based on a democratic formulation of classes, student-teacher relationships, and exhibitions). Her recent exhibitions include:  Luminous Bodies Hiromi Yoshii Tokyo, Drift Contemporary Art Stuttgart, Complicity Kunstverein Amsterdam NL, Immersion in minor Overbeck Gesellschaft Kunstverein Luebeck DE, Empathetic Vision, Dinos and the Tamer of Horses Ludlow 38 NY, Nature after Nature Fridericianum Kassel, Game Heart Matter Silverman Gallery, San Franscisco US, Pocketpark Luettgenmejier Berlin, Girls can tell, Gesellschaft fuer aktuelle Kunst,  Das virtuose Haus Kuenstlerhaus Palais Thurn und Taxis, Bregenz, AT

Working across a variety of media and within  a constant challenging and questioning of artistic media in society, she is mostly known for installations including interventions critically engaging the representation of realities. Prevailing modernistic concepts, power structures, and hierarchical historiographies are captured and investigated for their validity. Sensually, playfully rearranging parts and perception structures that form our bodily experience the work can enhance our perceptual and critical consciousness. Images and information are considered in their spatial and sociopolitical context with a feature of rerelating it to the probing of the limits of the medium. 


Knut Åsdam is a filmmaker, installation artist, sculptor and photographer. Expressed in diverse forms, the main interest of Åsdam’s work remains a concern for contemporary society and its psychological and material effects, and the toll of every day life; e.g. how individuals constructs and negotiates his or her identity in reaction to the rules and organizations of contemporary society. The idiosyncrasy of Åsdam’s approach to the cinematic field is created by transposing the resources of spatial and place-oriented discourses from the Fine Arts context into film. Furthermore, he uses a plotless narrative and an oscillation between documentary and fictional narrative elements in the films. Åsdam´s work has been shown widely at i.e. Tate Modern; Bergen Kunsthall; Tate Britain; Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam; Venice Biennial; Kunsthalle Bern; Istanbul Biennial; FRAC Bourgogne; MACRO, Rome; Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; Manifesta7; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; P.S.1 MOMA, NYC: and Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, among others.


Peter J. Amdam is a curator, writer, and critic based in Oslo and London. Exhibitions include Refraction. The Image of Sense, Blain|Southern, London, 2014-2015, Shattered Preface, OSL Contemporary, Oslo, 2014, The Medium of Intensity, and Awaiting Immanence, both Carl Kostyál, Stockholm, 2013, Concatenation. Signature, Seriality, Painting, Blain|Southern, London, 2012. He has written extensively on contemporary art and aesthetic theory. Current projects include a monograph with painter Fredrik Værslev (forthcoming 2015, Karma, New York). Amdam also had his first solo exhibition as an artist in spring 2014; From the Depths of Separation, Lynx, Oslo. He is also a well-known figure on the international hardcore music scene and his new band, FPS—For Pete’s Sake—will release their debut album in 2015.


Sara Eliassen is an artist and filmmaker based in Oslo, Norway. Her work is a conceptual cinema-practice where she is investigating how aesthetics and narratives presented in moving images create collective memories, and how these influence the understanding of our selves as subjects. Her work often plays with narrative expectations, using film, video, text, drawing, photography and installations in a critical practice. Eliassen’s work also involves projects in public space: the activist anti-ad project Not Worth It; making false TV ads interfering with Norwegian public and commercial TV channels. Eliassen holds an MFA in experimental filmmaking from San Francisco Art Institute and was a studio fellow at The Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program in 2011. Her films Still Birds and A Blank Slate have played extensively at international film festivals, amongst them Venice Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam and Sundance. 


Lene Berg (works in Berlin and New York) studied film at Dramatiska Institutet in Stockholm. She integrates text, film and photography in her work. She has directed three feature films, En Kvinnas Huvud (1997), Kopfkino (2012) and Gompen og andre beretninger om overvåking… (2014), as well as more than fifteen video-projections and shorter films. Her work has been shown at the Henie Onstad Art Center, Oslo; Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK; Art in General, New York and Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis, USA, among others. She has participated in the Sydney Biennale, Australia; Contour Mechelen, Belgium and Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain. In 2013 she represented Norway at the 55th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.


For forty years, video art pioneer Michel Auder has culled his genre-defying compositions from footage documenting nearly the whole of his adult life, addressing questions of the human experience with a cool passion seemingly at odds with his intensely personal subject matter. He uses video not as a medium but as material, selecting naturally occurring footage and supplementing it with staged scenes, hired actors and recorded broadcasts. After working with the avant-garde Zanzibar Group, Auder married Warhol cohort Viva in 1969 and moved from France to New York City. There he found himself at the centre of the city’s downtown art scene, and he began to document his life in earnest. His work is more than an important live-action document for row’s cultural historians; it is art, not documentary. In his most recent work, Auder curates old footage of his youth from the vantage point of age; this habitual revisiting and redefining intimate moments proves the hallmark of an artist uniquely equipped to reflect for us the ever-shifting nature of personal perception.



Publisert 3. mars 2015 12:45 - Sist endret 24. apr. 2018 15:33