In excess, elsewhere and otherwise: Feminine subjectivity in Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s multi-screen installation If 6 Was 9 (1995)

2019-03-13T13:37:26Z (GMT) by Elspeth Mitchell
This paper engages with the concept of ‘elsewhere’ in the feminist philosophy of Luce Irigaray as a way to theorise the experience of viewing the audio-visual installations of Finnish artist, Eija-Liisa Ahtila. Ahtila’s work traces specific narratives concerning feminine desire and subjectivity across multi-screen apparatus in gallery environment. The space of exhibition and film form initiate a mode of encounter that motivates a different relation of projector, screen and viewer. Ahtila’s multi-screen installations insist that we look to the places of exclusion in discourse and to the silences in representation for meaning elsewhere, in excess and otherwise. The exclusion in discourse is for Luce Irigaray of course the feminine. Irigaray articulates a view that textually and performatively demands we recognise the impossibility of a feminine position. I take up this problematic with specific attention to how Ahtila’s audiovisual installation If 6 Was 9 (Jos 6 olis 9, 1995) produces and disrupts traditional cinematic representation to examine how the space of installation, multi-screen form and the filmic space lend itself to a different encounter with the cinematic. By tracing the concept of ‘elsewhere’ in philosophical and audio-visual texts, the article develops and refines a position from which one might view contemporary cinematic experience.