Jamais fille chaste n'a lu de romans
This research explores the subversive potential of reading women, as errancy and transgression, in relation to sexuality and education is explored in work/s structured on the education of women and women as readers. Rousseau sets the scene (‘a chaste girl has never read a novel’), with the display of volumes I and II of his epistolary novel Julie, or La nouvelle Héloïse. The title is taken from his introduction. The impropriety of reading is suggested throughout.
There is reference to S. Maréchal’s satirical tract Plan for a law forbidding a woman to learn to read (1801), consisting of 82 clauses, fortified by a hundred and 13 reasons for the law, proving that the woman who knows the alphabet has lost a portion of her innocence.
The eighteenth-century doctor S.-A. Tissot proposed that a daughter exposed to novels at a tender age will develop hysteria; often cited, the source of the quotation cannot be established, becoming a medical axiom knotting women, hysteria, and reading. G. Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and K. Marx’s Capital are the project’s secondary texts: a seeming opposition between literature and political philosophy becomes a logical pairing in the spectre of social boundaries failing to hold, when what is private or public is no longer a separate sphere. The first addresses the staging of the affliction of the woman reader, for Emma Bovary reads extravagantly; her reading is bound to lead to trouble. In the second, women readers of Capital are equally dangerous.
This research was exhibited at an opening event at CIRCUIT, centre d’art Lausanne. Including a ‘vagina soup’ (Jonsson) extended the concept of the exhibition: three artists, Fabienne Audeoud, Christina Jonsson, and Linda Stupart, performed on their own red ‘stage’ or podium, situated in the centre of the supposed ‘boudoir’, with readings by Kivland with Julie Ringeval.
This project contains further videos that can accessed via the full case study below.
This collection of images displays the outputs from this project. Find out more details in the full case study below.
The artist made three site visits between 2018 and 2019, responding to the architecture of the venue and equally to the political context of feminism in the Vaud, through encounters and discussion, both public and private. She investigated the relation of women’s literacy to embroidery, through her usual methods of material production and textual research, especially employing her own extensive collections of objects and materials, as well as her library.