Abstract

Yvonne Rainer's transition from choreography to filmmaking in the 1970s coincided with the widespread social and political impact of the women's movement. Through a close analysis of her second feature-length film, this essay argues that Film About a Woman Who … (1974) can be understood as a complex reflection on the widely influential feminist idea “the personal is the political.” Rather than seeing Rainer's turn to the personal and emotional as the antithesis of a materialist political analysis—as Marxist influenced critics have tended to—I draw upon Raymond Williams's concept of “structures of feeling” as a way of discerning emergent social change through figurations of lived experience. This analysis identifies moments of rupture in the film's narrative structure where questions of queerness and racial difference emerge to complicate the film's focus on (white, heterosexual) female identity. Moreover, Rainer's engagement with the emotional or personal has typically been seen as related only to her work's content and as such these references have been set in opposition to formal experimentation, whereas Williams's notion of the “structures of feeling” is addressed to transformations at the level of aesthetic form. By focusing on film form, this essay displaces the commonly held opposition of “structure” and “feeling” that continues to give shape to critical analyses of post—minimalist and post—conceptualist work of this period.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.