R(h)etrotopic bodies: mapping the ‘retro’ pin-up as (un)desirable space

Carlton Brick, Kelly Davidson

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Abstract

This paper attempts to locate the recent emergence of the ‘retro’ pin-up as an expression of an identified ‘crisis’ of (sub)cultural signification. Drawing from Foucault’s concept of ‘heterotopic space’ (Foucault 1986; Hetherington 1998), the paper suggests that the pin-up functions as a space of ‘otherness’ whereby this ‘crisis’ is reflected, contested and temporarily ‘resolved’.

Discussion of the ‘retro’ pin-up has been located within the wider context of an assumed fragmentation/ re-conceptualisation of feminism. Buszek (2006) and Munford (2010) suggest that the re-appropriation of the pin-up style whilst a renegotiation of feminism as a social and political project, is nonetheless consistent with a feminist tradition. As Munford suggests ‘…the paraphernalia of ‘femininity’ is no longer at odds with ‘feminism’, but re-located at the very centre of a ‘re-fashioned’ politics of sexual agency and confidence – one that can be located within the tradition of pleasure-loving and self-assertive feminism..’ (2010: 188). However, Eply (2007) suggests that the retro pin-up not only marks a fundamental break with the political traditions of feminism, but accommodates to the de-politicised, ‘ironic’(post-feminist) forms of consumption associated with the (post)modern neo-liberal market.

Noting the centrality of these discourses to the construction, mediation and consumption of the postmodern pin-up, the paper also recognizes that the re-appropriation of the pin-up cuts across a number of performative and spectacular subcultural forms which, whilst ‘stylistically’ distinct, are nonetheless affiliated through a complex of overlapping consumption practices unified through the notion of ‘retro culture’ (Eply 2007: 174). Drawing upon the concept of ‘heterotopia,’ the paper seeks to provide a framework within which contested constructions and expressions of ‘alternative’ gendered subjectivities within specific subcultural sites and spaces can be understood in relation to the wider tensions in the mainstream cultural production of a postmodern ‘retro’ aesthetic.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2013
EventMusic, Gender & Difference: Intersectional and postcolonial perspectives on musical fields - University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 10 Oct 201312 Oct 2013

Conference

ConferenceMusic, Gender & Difference
Country/TerritoryAustria
CityVienna
Period10/10/1312/10/13

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