Venus Inferred

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Overview

We are all, it is said, looking for love. But what does love look like? Does it look the way it feels? The visual vocabulary of romance-its attendant comforts and vulnerabilities, ambivalences and unclarities-is the subject of Venus Inferred. This collection of 46 richly reproduced color photographs is Laura Letinsky's study of contemporary lovers as they are seen, as they show, and as they see themselves making love and inhabiting domestic space. Entering what might be called the intimate sphere, Letinsky's camera explores a space too personal to be termed public and yet whose cultural and emotional shape is uncannily recognizable. Over a seven-year period, Letinsky visited lovers in their homes, hotel rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens and recorded in detail the promises, disharmonies, and disappointments that inhere in modern coupling.

Accompanying the photographs is an essay by critic Lauren Berlant, which presents an aesthetic and cultural analysis of the contemporary images of romance and intimacy. Berlant contemplates the burden of clarity that sexuality bears, implicit both in conventional romantic ideals and in the "counterpolitics of the flesh" that desires to escape them. Thus arises the sublime ordinariness of Letinsky's couples, Berlant argues: "As 'normal' pleasures themselves become deemed modes of domination, the already destabilizing aspects of sexuality can feel even more unsettling." An interview between Letinsky and Berlant unfolds the artist's intellectual formation while exploring the unsettling and pleasurable power of her images as they circulate through the domains of romance, sexuality, and contemporary culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In these striking color images, photographer Letinsky invites the viewer into the private world of everyday life, capturing ambiguities of intimacy, love, family, and sex. Over the course of seven years, she visited lovers in all rooms of their houses, recording the couples' promises, disharmonies, and disappointments. Lauren Berlant (English, gender studies, and humanities at the U. of Chicago), provides an introductory essay, as well as an interview with Letinsky that reveals the photographer's influences, her method of working with the subject, and how her work aligns with certain traditions in Western art. Oversize: 11.5x11<">. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226473451
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2000
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Letinsky is an assistant professor on the Committee on Art and Design and also serves on the Committee on Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Her photography has been featured in exhibitions at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Yale University, MOMA, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.

Lauren Berlant is a professor of English, Gender Studies, and the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Her books include The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship, and The Anatomy of National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life.

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