the journal Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society
This article examines Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s 1977 avantgarde essay film Riddles of the Sphinx as a cinematic text that makes the museum a site for imagining psychoanalytic feminism as a reparative reading practice. I argue that the film questions gender and race as ‘‘musealized’’ images that make predetermined essences present, and offers instead images of working through the damages of sexism and racism that erode the familiar poles of idealization and denigration. Focused on the psychic life of a middle-class white woman as she begins extricating herself from the narrow confines that white patriarchal culture has allotted her, Riddles revises the visual logics of castration, which opens the possibility that white women can, instead of defending themselves against shame, respond to the forms of sexism and racism that write Black women’s lives.
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