Ope Lori

Completed PhD


“Who’s The Fairest Of Them All?” (2009) Five screen monitor display, looped videos

Image Making and the Oppositional Gaze: Re- Visualizing Western Representations of Race and Gender in the Female Body 1980 – 2010

This practice-led research takes an interdisciplinary approach to deconstructing and then reconstructing representations of race and gender in the female body, by critiquing stereotypical clichés of lesbian interracial couples in films and dramas between 1980 and 2010, through using my own ‘image-making’ performances for video and photography. These two major signs of difference are contextualized to consider how they interrelate within Western discourse, specifically in the United Kingdom and United States.

The research considers the power relations between black and white women, between two same-sexed bodies, where gender roles are negotiated. Power relations is to be understood here as having the power to represent someone or something in a certain way within representations, so that in lesbian narratives, I am contesting the gender roles of interracial lesbian couples, where black women are generally seen as masculine and white women as feminine. This is a stereotypical cliché seen in dramas such as the US series the ‘L word’ (2000-2009), the British series ‘Lip service’ (2010), and in films such as Sheila McLaughlin’s ‘She Must Be Seeing Things’ (1987) and Cheryl Dunye’s ‘The Watermelon Woman’ (1996).

This investigation has been fuelled by the fact that I believe these screen representations dictate my own lived experience, as I am viewed as the dominant, masculine partner by others in my interracial relationship. In her critique of the cinema as an image machine, feminist film theorist Teresa de Lauretis questions the function of representation, asking us to consider “what processes do images on the screen produce imaging on and off screen, articulate meaning and desire, for the spectators?” (de Lauretis, T 1984:39) Her text on ‘Imaging’ proves pivotal to the research and to understanding the use of cinema films in the first instance. The text bridges the gap between the on and off screen positions black and white women have found themselves in British and United States society in general.

Research Questions

1. How can I create new ways of looking at black women as other than non-feminine when next to a white woman?

2. How can I re-visualize/re-code representations of black and white women juxtapositioned together, to break up race and gender assumptions?

3. How do we assign gender roles to race visually? Or vice versa

4. Through ‘image-making’, how can I revisualize relations of power, sexuality, race and gender to produce an oppositional gaze?

Visit Opelori.com, or email ope.lori@hotmail.com for more details.

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    Re-Contested Sites/Sights Research Conference

    TrAIN & CCW Graduate School | Re-Contested Sites/Sights Research Conference

    Multidisciplinary Research Conference at Chelsea College of Art & Design

    Supported by the Transnational Art, Identity, & Nation Research Centre (TrAIN), CCW Graduate School, University of the Arts London

    Conference Date: May 8th 2013, 9:30 – 18:00
    Venue: Banqueting Hall and Red Room,
    Chelsea College of Art and Design

    ’Re-Contested Sites/Sights’ is the theme of UAL’s second Doctoral student-led research conference sponsored by the Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity, and Nation (TrAIN).
    The conference will bring together research projects which challenge dominant ways of perceiving identities and bodies, spaces and places as well as questioning their visual representations.
    Find out more about Re-Contested Sites/Sights Research Conference

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