Site-Writing: she is walking about in a town which she does not know

Recently my writing has explored the position of the author, not only in relation to theoretical ideas, art objects, and architectural spaces but also to the site of writing itself. This interest has evolved into a project of “site-writing” that aims to spatialize criticism. “Site-writing” occurs when discussions concerning site specificity extend to involve art criticism, and the spatial qualities of writing and reading become as important in conveying meaning as the content of the criticism. This article suggests that this kind of criticism or critical spatial writing, in operating as mode of a practice in its own right, questions the terms of reference that relate the critic to the work positioned “under” critique. This is an active writing that constructs as well as traces the sites of relation between critic and work. Outlining the conceptual concerns that frame my project of “site-writing” with particular reference to current debates in art criticism, this article then draws on psychoanalytic theory to think through relationships between the spatial politics of internal psychical figures and external cultural geographies, drawing in particular on the work of psychoanalytic practitioners and theorists Jessica Benjamin and Jean Laplanche. Then, in “She is Walking about in a Town Which She Does Not Know,” this article demonstrates the practice of “site-writing” through an essay located on threshold spaces both real and fictional, exterior and interior which link and separate the critic from the work of the eight women artists included in Elles sont passées par ici, Loguivy de la Mer, Brittany, France, 2005.

Jane Rendell, ‘Site-Writing: she is walking about in a town which she does not know’, Lesley Mcfadden and Matthew Barrac (eds) Connected Spaces, special issue of Home Cultures (2007).


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