Anne Charlotte Robertson’s Five Year Diary (UK, 1982) is a multimodal project that comprises cinematic, written, audio, and food diaries that span almost forty years of the artist’s life. This article focuses on how gendered labor gets taken up in the diary project and contrasts it to the elision of gendered labor found in Stan Brakhage’s lyrical film Star Garden (US, 1974). The article charts two types of gendered labor Robertson engages in over the course of the project. First, as a document that tracks Robertson’s weight loss, a form of labor that she presents in a register of repetitious drudgery that inevitably ends in failure. Close readings of Robertson’s engagement with diet and exercise are considered within the larger genealogy of women presenting their bodies for measurement in second-wave feminist art. This form of gendered labor is in stark contrast to the second important form found in Five Year Diary, that of work located in the domestic realm. Presented in a decidedly different register of repetition, one rooted in joy, Robertson’s time-lapse and stop-motion sequences record her efforts at cooking and cleaning, relying on time-lapse’s transformative quality to use domestic labor as a form of world-making. At odds with the way the domestic realm is presented by the women’s movement as what keeps women captive in a never-ending cycle of repetitive, meaningless work, the essay argues that Robertson records her domestic labor as not just a means to an end but an aesthetic object in itself.
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Research Article| December 01 2020
Anjo-marí Gouws; “I’m Washing My Dishes and Making a Movie”: Anne Charlotte Robertson and World-Making as Women’s Work. Camera Obscura 1 December 2020; 35 (3 (105)): 60–87. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-8631559
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