– Autumn/Winter 2013

Bodyimage: Lene Berg’s Kopfkino

Ian White

This essay is published shortly after its author, Ian White, passed away. Ian was many things: an artist, a teacher, a curator, a friend and also a writer. Every time I received the first draft for an essay from Ian I felt a sense of trepidation, of excitement – a feeling that I knew would be met by a writing that would be urgent, direct, complex, knowledgeable and inquisitive, seductive and provocative. There was always very little to correct, in terms of expression, in Ian’s writing – he wouldn’t allow for it, and anyway it wasn’t needed: the grammar was precise in its complication, the words were there because they needed to be. But he was always willing to consider questions about what he had written or not written, and about why it would perhaps make sense to take something else into account, about why making a specific statement would be important there and then. I think this is what Ian was like as a person, and it is very sad we won’t have more of that. Still, he left a lot behind, for us. For example, this text, but also what he wrote during the last few months in his blog: Lives of Performers. He will be greatly missed.

– Pablo Lafuente, 6 November 2013


When a body is for sale it is never simple: never any body, never just a body, never simply an exchange of one thing for another, no easy transaction. It is not the only thing at stake because it is

  1. The trilogy is composed of Bildnis einer Trinkerin. Aller jamais retour (Portrait of a Female Drunkard: Ticket of No Return, 1979), Freak Orlando (1981) and Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse (The Image of Dorian Gray in the Yellow Press, 1984).

  2. See, in particular, Laura Mulvey’s essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ (1973), first published in Screen, Autumn 1975, vol.16, no.3, pp.6—18; reprinted in L. Mulvey, Visual and Other Pleasures (1989), London and New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2009, pp.14—31.

  3. L. Mulvey in conversation with Scott MacDonald, in A Critical Cinema 2: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992, p.339. We might also consider the story of Lulu, told in 35 shots of tableaux vivants at the end of Yvonne Rainer’s film Lives of Performers (1972), to be similarly interested in a radical — and radicalising — formal flatness.