Birgit Jürgenssen

Deutsch
Peter Weibel

Peter Weibel

Birgit Jürgenssen and the Night of Psychoanalysis.

In: Gabriele Schor, Heike Eipeldauer (eds.): Birgit Jürgenssen. Exhibition catalogue in cooperation with Sammlung Verbund and Bank Austria Kunstforum. London, New York, München, Berlin, Prestel, 2010. pp. 111-123.

In Austria, the 1960s and '70s saw prominent woman artists including Renate Bertlmann, VALIE EXPORT, Birgit Jürgenssen, Maria Lassnig and others set out to undermine cultural constructions of femi­ninity; in doing so, they used their bodies as surfaces onto which cultural codes and criticism thereof could be projected. In this process, Birgit Jürgenssen (BJ) played a special role. Maria Lassnig is a painter first and foremost, although she also made important animated films. Renate Bertlmann is a photographer and actionist. VALIE EXPORT has been through nearly all the relevant media: photography, video, film, action art, drawing, installation art and sculpture. Birgit Jürgenssen was above all a draughtswoman, an object artist, a photographer and somet­imes also an actionist. So she was a multimedia artist who worked both in the classic medium of drawing as well as in the new medium of photography. It is hence not only her preferred media that distinguish BJ from other femi­nist artists, but also the issues she raises and the solutions she puts forth with regard to that visual culture via which woman, her gender and her social roles are stan­dardized. BJ's rebellion against male-domi­nated visual culture and the signifi­cance of her artistic output can be traced back to two sources which make her stance so unique. One of these was the surrea­list revolution, which BJ had studied in depth. The other source that can serve to facili­tate a deeper under­standing of BJ's oeuvre is the revolutionary school of psychology running from Melanie Klein, a pioneer of child psychoanalysis and object relations theory 1 to her student Donald Winnicott. 2

Birgit Jürgenssen extends the mate­rial realm of things into the immate­rial realm of signs. With her photographic works and drawings, she operates openly in the sign-realm--or, more precisely, in the adjoi­ning "transitional space" (D. W. Winnicott), as I will show further below. She creates signs and interprets signs. She trans­forms her body into a world of signs, and she interprets the object-world as a sign-world. As a visual artist, she operates in the realm of the symbolic. This symbolic realm is precisely that sphere of transition where the pleasure principle meets the reality principle and joy meets bounty and fulfillment, just as pain meets empt­i­ness and insufficiency, pleasure meets presence, and pain meets absence. For this purpose, she transfers the body or fragments of the body out of the three-dimensional world of space and onto the two-dimensional surface of photography or drawing. She works with photography, the writing of light. Freud once said that writing is the medium of absence. And tech­nology, as Freud also said, continues the work of writing as a language of absence. So photography is a medium of absence. Through photography, absent bodies and events take on an at least symbolic presence. The absent objects are trans­formed into signs; as such, they are photographically (or just graphically) present. One could say that the works of Birgit Jürgenssen consist in the translation from one language to another, from the order of things into the order of signs. The absent objects are translated into the language of light (photography). Jürgenssen therefore cannot be reduced to the status of a commercial visual artist who depicts what she sees in her outer or inner world, but is rather an author, a poet, who uses the means of the body and of photography to extend the work of painting and sculpture into new territories, continuing it and translating it into new codes. Jürgenssen works neither with objects of space nor with the body as an object, but rather with signifiers of the body and of space. Her assertion "Jeder hat seine eigene Ansicht" (ph16) [Everybody has their own point of view], written in mud on her naked back, is more than just a photographic statement. It can be recognized as the inscription of a text into the body. Culture is lite­r­ally written into the body. The text needs the body as a technical carrier medium and/or as a projection surface. The body is the medium of the writing. And this gives rise to a contra­diction: writing is, after all, the medium of absence, whereas the body is the medium of presence. Hence, this is the antinomic combi­nation of two media. Moreover, the world "Ansicht" [(point of) view] is written on the rear side of the body. This brings terms like "rear view" and "hindsight" to mind. It is well known that the view of a beautiful rear can also endear. So in this sense, the assertion that "everybody has their own point of view" is just a matter of one's view­point. But this equalization of every perspective, written or inscribed onto her body, deletes her own visage. So in a way, BJ turns her back on the assertion that "everybody has their own point of view"--even though she provides the very back upon which this view is written. As we see, texts meta­morphose into bodies and bodies into text. As they do so, they become entangled in contra­dictions--which in turn once again trans­form body parts into texts and texts into body parts. Hence, this statement-on-the-skin is not merely philosophical poetry, but in fact a sculptural phenomenon by virtue of the body's presence. 

BJ proves to be a sculptor precisely because she uses her order(ing) of printed letters to refer to the order(ing) of things and, above all, to the fact that this order(ing) is depen­dent upon the view and position of the subject, and that the mate­rial location of this subject is the subject's own body. In the phenome­nology of percep­tion, the world appears as a field of view and observation. Since the assertion has been written on the subject's back, it is clear that this view--that is to say, the subject's own view--is not accessible to the subject herself. The assertion is thus limited, true only in a relative sense, for a view of oneself is precisely that view which everybody is denied. The assertion is true and untrue; it contra­dicts itself. With this sentence, it is only possible to escape the closed interpretive space if "view" is also under­stood as "non-view," and if, in the same way, "everybody" is under­stood to be "not everybody" (that is to say, the Other), and if one's own point of view does not exclude the Other's point of view. This gives rise to a wide-open field of interpretation. The point of view, the position from which the gaze originates, has the effect of fragmenting percep­tion. By cropping the image, the camera more sharply focuses the fragmentation of the object-world and hence also of the body. The body becomes the site of deeply cut "inscriptions." It becomes a site for inscriptions by the gaze. 

In photography, the body becomes paper and the signs on the body become writing on that paper. So the medium of paper forms the interface between work with the body and work with language. BJ hence works as a body artist, as a sculptor and as a poet. She is also a conceptual artist; after all, since Joseph Kosuth and Lawrence Weiner we have known that statements about art are, in fact, art--and that even just statements alone can also be art. 3 As a body artist, BJ works with (photographic) signifiers of the body. The mate­rialization of writing on the body causes the body to take on a greater degree of mate­riality. The mate­rialization of the body on paper, on the other hand, causes the body to lose mate­riality. Concealed behind this economic exchange is an economy of desire that is based on an exchange of the signifier: the body speaks, and language embodies. Simulta­neously discovered and covered up via fragmen­tary photographic depiction and the inscription with writing and signs, the body makes for an strangely unfa­miliar view. It is present and absent, a mere myste­rious trace which origin is more intuited than known, a sign, "une présence faite d'absence," a lack which gives rise to desire. It becomes a corpus delicti precisely because of its distant presence and alien quality. The eye at once sees it and fails to see it. The body thus becomes the cartography of the unexpected, of uncer­tainty, and of sexual iden­tity. 

Surrealism and conceptual art encounter each other in a way that only seems para­doxical. As surprising as this encounter might appear at first glance, there are indeed "rites of transition" (D. W. Winnicott) between the two artistic stances. A hand transitions into a high heel such that the hand becomes a foot (ph1656). Above an arm there is a colorful folded leaf, through which the arm becomes a branch or a reptile (ph42). A drawing appears to be a tattoo (ph43). Points of light form a network above a hand, which thereby takes on a head-like character (ph32)

BJ is the artist of object relations or, more precisely, of object transitions. The space within which she acts artistically is that of transition. Rather than retain their individuality, the objects are subject to constant meta­morphoses and serve only to facili­tate the transition from one object to the other, from hand to foot, from arm to branch, from culture to nature, from human being to animal. It is transitional objects that form BJ's representational world. Which begs the question: what kind of a world is one that consists of transitional objects? The surrea­lists already provided an answer to this question, as would the psychoanalytic object relations theory of Melanie Klein later on. It is evidently a world between dream and reality, between the unconscious and the conscious, where the imaginary and the real have not yet decided just who holds symbolic power. 

Jürgenssen's body pictures are anchored in the surrea­list tradition of the symptomatic body, where fragmentation of percep­tion and of the body plays a central role. The surrea­listic body lives between dream and reality; it is a mirror image of the imaginary, a place of phantasms. There, the body appears almost constantly in an oneiric--that is: meto­nymic--form. In surrealism, one often sees empty shoes before a stairway, an arm extending out of a doorway, an isolated eye, a hand being pushed around on the floor by a rod. But one also observes meta­morphoses and anagrammatic bodies--these are bodies with organs structured like wordplays. The Locking Spoon (1957) by Marcel Duchamp repres­ents a special key to Jürgenssen's work. For Jürgenssen operates with stra­tegies of veiling and unveiling, of concealment and exposure. She provides a key, as it were, but the door is locked--and the spoon turns out not to be a suitable key for the lock. 

Another work by Duchamp--the famous door-in-the-corner-of-a-room which, when closing the opening on one side, opens the opening on the other side, and vice-versa (1927)--is likewise characterized by a "double-bind" structure and thus a central model for Jürgenssen's oeuvre, to which the defi­nition of tech­no­logical seeing by surrea­list Jacques Brunius (1938) applies: "to show what the eye does not see; to show what the eye sees, but differ­ently." BJ's answer to this assertion is precisely the assertion "Everybody has their own point of view" (ph16), written on the body. Because the only way the artist can see this sentence with her own eyes is in the form of a photograph. She thus shows that which the eye cannot see in a natural way. But she does go about showing this sentence to the eye in another way, namely on a photograph. So tech­no­logical seeing facili­tates a view that natural seeing would not permit. This is BJ's abstract way of saying that tech­nology permits some­t­hing different than nature would, while at the same time posing the question: is the body tech­nology, or is nature? BJ shows the body as a transitional object by virtue of the body (nature) being covered or formed over by writing (culture). So the double bind of media of absence and media of presence recurs as a double bind of culture and nature. The surrea­listic body is the corpus delicti, the fragmented, chopped-up body, the "sculpture involun­taire," as Brassai dubbed a series of pictures from 1933. The body is caught in the act, so to speak, and is turned in. 

The form of the surrea­listic body is "informe," an expression coined in 1929 by the surrea­list renegade Georges Bataille. Continuing along Bataille's lines, who in his battle against anthropomorphism even threw out the form of the human body in figure humaine (1929), Jürgenssen uses picture fragments, photographic close-ups and details of the body to subvert and poetize that which is real. Surrea­listic photography of the body is the first example of what Rosalind Krauss describes as the begin­ning of postmodernism, which she calls the "photographic condition." In this postmodernism, the "lingu­istic turn" has been completed. This explains why BJ, as a postmodern artist, is so interested in drawing and photographing the body as text. She accomplishes the lingu­istic turn in the middle of the body's arena by pulling text and body together. This artistic tech­nique shows BJ to be a perfect, consummate postmodern artist who contem­plated the lingu­istic and medial turn on a deeper level than did her contem­poraries. She under­stood what André Breton meant when, in 1920, he declared: "The automatic writing that surfaced at the end of the 19th century is a true photography of thoughts." With her specific continuation of the "écriture automatique," every object is elevated from the event horizon of physical presence into the higher sphere of the language of aesthetic codes. That class of signs which do not deny their ties to their real origins and hence still offer a physical relation, a class therefore referred to as the index, plays a central role in this. The physical applications to the body, such as the letters and signs applied to the body in the case of BJ, represent such indexical operation. This is why body fragments can meta­morphose into signs and these signs, in turn, can meta­morphose into other signs. This is why objects can be trans­formed into signs, and why the relati­ons­hips between the signs and the objects can, in turn, be trans­formed into relati­ons­hips of signs to objects. 

The works of Birgit Jürgenssen, a consummate postmodern artist, embody postmodern phantasms of surrea­list dream-works. Jürgenssen paid a great deal of attention to surrea­list art, for which reason I refer to surrea­list artist Claude Cahun, whose example can provide a foundation for under­standing BJ's oeuvre. Cahun was the femi­nist answer to the masculine gaze of surrea­list Man Ray. Jürgenssen is the postmodern echo of the femi­nine gaze of surrea­list Cahun. 

A famous photographic work by Claude Cahun is one in which she shows herself with a large number of masks on her body. Just as famous is the photomon­tage consisting of a multi­p­lication of arms, legs, eyes and heads. These surrea­listic motifs of organ-multi­p­lications, the "body without organs and the organs without a body" (Antonin Artaud), recur in Jürgenssen's work. Hands, mouth, eyes, toes, arms and legs--all of these as isolated objects--are frequent motifs in surrealism. And these surrea­listic objects are, namely, partial objects. Surrea­lists are partisans for partial objects as well as for fetish objects, particularly with regard to the shoe and foot fetishism that we also see in the works of Birgit Jürgenssen. From Salvador Dali to Meret Oppen­heim, surrea­list artists cele­brate the cult of partial objects. The photographic gaze, via the tech­nique of the close-up, permitted fragmentation of the body. The surrea­list body is the "chopped-up body" (Jacques Lacan). BJ stands in this tradition. She, too, trans­forms the body's organs into fetish objects. Fetish objects are the field of the second skin. Shoes, stock­ings, coats, furs, bras, etc. are the second skin's arsenal. The fetishist desires the second skin more than the first one, for which reason he wants to have his Venus in furs and not naked. We can now recognize that the masks, like clot­hing, are media of the second skin. This use of masks, makeup and clot­hing that we see in the works of Claude Cahun also appears in those of Birgit Jürgenssen. We see a body which stages itself with the help of masks, makeup and clot­hing. These stagings are of the ego. Featuring isolated and absolutized fetish objects, they form scenarios of an imaginary Other. In this way, Jürgenssen orchestrates that famous drumbeat of modernism "I is another" by Arthur Rimbaud. 

Claude Cahun and Birgit Jürgenssen do not do the same thing as Cindy Sherman, another well-known prot­agonist of ego-stagings. Sherman, by visualizing and assuming the role offerings, so to speak, of the social condition, shows us some­t­hing more akin to ego-implants than to ego-stagings. This is to say that she does not invent herself, but rather assumes the female roles offered up by the mass media--by cinema, television and newspa­pers. It is for this reason that she works with film stills. She borrows human masks that the mass media offer to her.

With Claude Cahun and BJ, some­t­hing different is the case. As we know, Claude Cahun used a number of pseudonyms. Claude is a male name, and Cahun was the name of her uncle--her real name was Lucy Schwob. Over the course of her life, she bore many names. She really just played with names, in a certain sense accepting no iden­tity at all. She rejected the prison of gender iden­tity, the nomi­na­listic function of being or being called either a man or a woman. With Cindy Sherman, it is some­t­hing different: she defines herself as a woman, as that women's role which the mass media and society offer her as a social construction. Cahun and Jürgenssen leave or, in fact, defect from the space which society offers for the construction of femi­nine iden­tity. Their playing with masks serves to state clearly that they desire to be neither man nor woman, and that they also do not want to even say woman or man. They reject onto­logical, biological and nomi­na­listic constructions of iden­tity and proceed to enter an unmarked gender of sorts, an unmarked space quite simply beyond the difference between the genders.

The lingu­istic turn allowed the postmodern artist BJ to view the body as text. This made it possible to also define the subject category as a lingu­istic construction, as well as to decon­struct both the body and the subject using lingu­istic tech­niques, particularly that of paronomasia. So the photographs of her body-stagings are visual paronomasias. We see contractions of clot­hing and bodies, of masks and of makeup--playful methods of escaping the cons­traints of gender. BJ disent­angles the subject from any and all social conno­tations of body or gender. In fact, she structures the subject as a play on words beyond gender. She treats the genders as quotations. The subject that the human being adopts is like a mask. The subject does not exist at all, just masks of the subject, and the subject can assume a position of its own choosing. The subject goes through various positions within and outside this dichotomy between the femi­nine and the masculine. In the works of BJ, the subject acts a "shifter." With this, BJ negates the subject's foundation upon nature and the body. She paraphrases Freud, saying: "Anatomy is not our fate." The body defines neither our gender nor our iden­tity. Today, on the other hand, we are prone to say that our molecules, our genes are our fate--but this, too, is untrue: our genes are likewise not our fate. 

Even an artist like Duchamp played with his perso­nality a great deal. He also took on the famous female name "Rrose Sélavy." He had always spoken of himself as a multiple perso­nality. From Duchamp we have the famous quotation: "I am not I; I merely assume other positions." As a historian, I can wish for nothing better than his having said exactly what I have said: that the ego is defined in the avant-garde as a shifter, as a stance, as a possible position. And that is precisely what he said: "I am not I; I merely assume other positions." This is also the position of Birgit Jürgenssen. Gender becomes a blank. This allows one to determine the gender as which one appears. The vanishing point of the subject is not the status quo, nor is it the range of roles offered by the mass media; the vanishing point is much rather imaginary and capable of penetrating itself. In Jürgenssen's case, the self is the search for the null character--in other words, the search is for a gender that is indefi­nable. 

If gender itself cannot be defined in a natural way, then can our preferences? Is sexuality in fact a natural preference? Traditio­nally, of course, everyone would say that gender, one's sexual life, is a natural preference. But if anatomy is not our fate, instead being merely our fate's symbolic order, is the natural preference therefore the product of this symbolic order? That is to say, what we see in Jürgenssen's escape into the unmarked space, into the zone of null characters, is in essence the statement that desire itself is not natural--even desire is taught to us. Those who know Slavoj Žižek's film The Pervert's Guide to Cinema know that the film's opening sequence proclaims precisely this: cinema is a machine that teaches us the way in which we desire. Without this machine, we would have no idea what we desire and how we desire.

In the work of Birgit Jürgenssen, an object emerges which introduced the Night of Psychoanalysis: namely the mother's breast that satisfies our needs, the partial object of the mother's breast. That was the scandal that Melanie Klein touched off due to having defined the central partial object as the mother's breast, instead of the penis. It is not just about the Oedipus complex or penis envy; rather, the partial object of the mother emerges suddenly as the genesis of desire, for desire is nursed at the breast. The baby deve­lops the feeling of love for its mother's breast because her breast nourishes it. The baby deve­lops tech­niques of obtai­ning it, so that the mother's breast is always there, a constant source of pleasure. The baby learns that it can achieve this by crying. But sooner or later comes the day on which the mother says, I have a life beyond the function of being a mother, and she desires to do some­t­hing other than nurse her baby. So the mother denies the baby her mothering breast. Then the breast becomes an object of hate, because the baby reacts negatively to this denial. The baby cries, but the mother's breast does not come. So that the reader might recognize just how radical this break is, I refer to D. W. Winnicott's famous saying, "There is no such thing as a baby." For the baby, it is clear, exists only via the relati­onship to its mother. The baby as such does not exist; there exists only the coope­ration between baby and mother. The decisive thing is that this partial object, the mother's breast, satisfied the desire. 

Here we see with what precision BJ works in the realm of transitional objects. If what Winnicott said is true, then it can be extended to every individual. Winnicott said: there is no baby. The baby only exists in connection with the mother. And in the same way, Jürgenssen means to say that there is no kitchen. A kitchen can only function in coalition with a housewife. Just as the baby exists only with its mother, the kitchen exists only with a housewife. This is why BJ built the famous kitchen tied around the woman's body like an apron (ph1578). Here, that which was soci­ally repressed becomes evident. One sees how the woman's body is lite­r­ally colonized. It simply does not exist alone--it is colonized by the objects ranging from the bathing suit, the bikini, to the kitchen.

Melanie Klein introduced the idea of parent-child interaction. She taught that the partial object consists in those objects with which the child comes into contact early on; it is in reference to such objects that the child learns to hate and to love. The human being, therefore, first deve­lops object relations. Before the child has a relati­onship with its mother, it deve­lops a relati­onship with her breast. There are object relati­ons­hips which arise earlier than the relati­ons­hips with attach­ment figures. The oeuvre of Birgit Jürgenssen operates in the oneiric realm of the shift from subject relations to object relations. And this entails her operating in the realm of partial objects and fetish objects. 

For this realm, Winnicott coined the term "transitional object," the object that ensures the transition from the so-called primary objects (in reference to which the love and hate relati­ons­hips of the baby develop) to the subjects to which the baby gives its love or hate. The child must learn to do without natural primary object relations and, instead, seek out new objects which can also provide satisfaction. These transitional objects provide merely symbolic satisfaction. Only via this transition does the child win its freedom--as does the mother. Transitional objects are objects of emancipation. And since Birgit Jürgenssen's work is about the emancipation and freedom of women, she works with transitional objects. BJ dedicates her art to transition, to rites of transition. She shows that an object like the mother's breast is of primary import­ance, but that only a symbol for such a partial object may be important later in life; human beings must be able to manage this transition in order to become free. So a man who kisses a breast does not kiss the mother's breast--if he were to, he would be exhibiting an infantile fixation. In reality, he kisses the real breast as a symbol of the breast. The breast fetishism practiced by the mass media shows with crystalline clarity that the bosom as a fetish object is a transitional object that determines the power or impotence of the mother, as well as the power or impotence of both the daughter and the son. 

Transition plays a major role in Birgit Jürgenssen's works for precisely this reason, because in the moment at which a baby is able to fetch its mother's breast by crying, it may have a feeling of subjective omni­potence: "I am so all-powerful. I cry, and my mother's breast comes." But then the baby has to learn that it can scream, and it's mother's breast will not come. In this, the baby gradually becomes acquainted with what we call objective reality, the reality principle. And this transition from the pleasure principle to the reality principle, from subjective omni­potence to relative power, this transition to objective reality must be successfully accomplished in order to define one's own position in the symbolic order. For this reason, the works of Birgit Jürgenssen are transitional objects. By concentrating on these, she blurs this transition, blurring even its very boundaries. This is the reason for her works in which she hides behind glass and windows (ph17). Glass can be regarded as a border which is visible and also invisible. Glass is a border that exists and does not exist, because glass itself is invisible. So Jürgenssen plays with transitional borders--is she still a child, or is she already a woman? She thus produces images of an "infantile regression." She simu­lates that bygone para­dise of partial objects where the baby, with its cries, could force the constant presence of the mother. At the same time, she shows us the border which, emerging from invisibility, becomes more and more visible until the desires collide with the reality principle. This is the moment at which the ego arises, as well as the moment at which the ego's construction can be refused. Winnicott said, "Only the true self can be creative and only the true self can feel real." A subject (such as here with Jürgenssen) that has a border, a trans­pa­rent border, pulls itself over or props itself up above reality, exhibiting a condition in which the ego has not fully landed in said reality. This is precisely that transitional state around which Birgit Jürgenssen's oeuvre is centered. BJ had the courage to show that we human beings may not yet have landed in reality. And it is because we claim to have landed there that we end up causing so much grief in actual reality. BJ said: I have not arrived at my true self. This is the consequence of Winnicott's thesis, which runs: if I am not real, I am not genuine, and then I am not really me. The reality principle and the subject principle are two sides of the same coin. In Jürgenssen's case, this coin is made of glass; the border that it provides is blurred, a matter of trans­pa­rency. And Jürgenssen even goes further. She even says: I cannot arrive at my true self, for my self is a shifter which I push around. She dissolves the reality principle, which is the core of patriarchy, by dissolving the subject principle. For patriarchy can only function if individuals accept the reality principle. BJ shows us an alternative: individuals can remain within the pleasure principle, but they then must accept that they will not arrive in reality. The linkage of reality and the subject occasio­nally leads to a well-known symptom: there are drug addicts who only feel real when they feel pain, for which reason they will intentio­nally cut them­selves. These people are living according to Winnicott's theory: you must accept that it is only when you feel real that you are a genuine self, and that you have a true self when you feel real. And in order to feel real, they inflict wounds upon them­selves. That has some­t­hing to do with the following quotation of Kafka: "Pain is the only thing that is real." When someone says some­t­hing like Kafka did, that the author was in a transitional state. He refuses, he actually does refuse the reality principle--and that is why he wrote the famous letter in which he hurled accusations at his father. This letter is about rebellion against his father, rebellion against patriarchy, rebellion against the reality principle. It is clear that the fathers, the law, duly respond to this attack on the reality principle and say: whoever does not accept the reality principle has, of course, no real self. And this is Birgit Jürgenssen's central point: we have no real self, just the game of shifters, masks and clot­hing. But in this, we have won the realm of freedom. It shows us that we are in a prison that is so trans­pa­rent that we are completely unaware of actually being in a prison. This prison is the prison of the true self. A person aware of being in a prison also knows that he or she has no true self. Jürgenssen rejects a lifelong self as a lifelong prison, life as a prison within a real self. She prefers to feel unreal; she deems it better than the real feeling of being in a prison. In her art of transitional objects and transitional passages, she shows us a new world of freedom. Her drawn statement "I want out" (ph17) refers us precisely to transitional objects as possible ejection seats from a compulsive reality. In this drawing, she shows us how she presses herself against the glass box. It is not the glass pane but rather just the pressure on it that one sees, made visible as pressure on the skin. In a certain sense, one sees the boundary that seems not to be there, but also the pressure that the reality principle wields on the skin. The skin is the decisive fetish zone. Fetishists emancipate them­selves from the reality principle. In other words, fetishists--be they shoe fetishists or clot­hing fetishists--do nothing other than emancipate them­selves from traditional object relations. They exit a form of object relation which center is normally occupied by the phallus. In such cases, what deve­loped was a negative object relati­onship. But this negative object relati­onship is the prerequisite for the ability to break out of a symbolic order that is enslaved to the reality principle. And this is the signifi­cant thing that BJ seeks to show us..

1) Melanie Klein, The Collected Writ­ings of Melanie Klein, 4 vols. (London: Hogarth Press, 1975). Phyllis Grosskurth, Melanie Klein: Her World and Her Work (Northvale, NJ: J. Aronson, 1986); Julia Kristeva, Melanie Klein, trans. Ross Guberman (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002); Hanna Segal, Introduction to the Work of Melanie Klein, 2nd ed. (New York: Basic Books, 1980).
2) Donald Winnicott, The Child, the Family and the Outside World (New York: Perseus Publishing, 1992). Donald Winnicott, Babies and their Mothers (New York: Perseus Publishing, 1987); Donald Winnicott, Aggression: Versagen der Umwelt und antisoziale Tendenz, Klett-Cotta Verlag, Stuttgart, 1992; Donald Winnicott, "Transitional objects and transitional phenomena," International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 34:89-97, 1953; Madel­eine Davis, Boundary and Space: An Introduction to the Work of D. W. Winnicott (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1981); Werner Sesink, Vermittlung des Selbst. Eine Pädago­gi­sche Einführung in die psychoanalyti­sche Entwicklungs­theorie D. W. Winnicotts (Münster: LIT Verlag, 2002).
3) Joseph Kosuth, Art After Philosophy and After, Collected Writ­ings, 1966-1990, (Cambridge / London: MIT Press, 1991); Lawrence Weiner, "Statements - Lawrence Weiner 1968", Art & Language: The Journal of Conceptual Art, 1/1 (May 1969), pp. 17-18; Sol LeWitt, "Sentences on Conceptual Art," Art & Language: The Journal of Conceptual Art, 1/1 (May 1969), pp. 11-13, in: Gerd de Vries, Über Kunst. Künst­ler­texte zum veränderten Kunst­verständnis nach 1965, Köln, 1974.