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Porno-graphics and porno-tactics: desire, affect and representation in pornography. An interview with Emilie Jouvet.

September 4, 2013

Pornography’s inscriptions in representation have troubled feminist writers, who since the 1970s have been critically addressing issues related to the presentation of the female body. Porn, it was contended, is for the most part a heterosexist genre, and its market circulation serves male libidinal pleasure, fixing the position of pleasure for both wo/men and abiding by patriarchal, gendered and sexually imposed norms. Later, the term was reclaimed under a critical re-perception of porn, cast as a gaze upon different others. This time race, religion, class came to the forefront. From Rosi Braidotti (m.s.) who addresses issues of racism in islamophobic representations such as the documentary ‘Fitna’, to the many commentators who related pornography to acts of torture, most notably in Abu-Ghraib (McClintock 2009) – pornography becomes a ‘concept metaphor’ that haunts autonomy (the laws of the self) through an heteronomous (laws of the other) affect (cf. Nancy 2007). Similarly, in debates over forced sex-work, the voyeuristic humanitarian gaze produces its Others either by sexualizing the other’s body, or by desexualizing the human in it.

On the other hand, many newly emerging artworks, documentaries, and porn productions, attempt to exscribe from porn its initial, normatively repressed qualities, and re-inscribe a feminist or queer perception of enjoyment and pleasure through feminine jouissance and the possibilities to push the limits of representation. In such tactics (de Certeau 1984), porn does not only become a concept-metaphor but, rather, it is being worked through a radical metonymic approach which seeks to transgress norms, explore desires and open up to affects. Tactics thus become tactile.

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