A betamale is being beaten

Ivan Knapp

Abstract


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This paper attempts a reading of John Rafman’s 2013 video work 'Still Life Betamale' through Juliet Mitchell’s revision of Freud’s famous 1919 essay ‘A Child is Being Beaten’. Whilst the oneiric tropes that persist in 'Still Life' are suggestive for an approach that makes use of psychoanalytic theory, it is the video’s deployment of fantasy as a mode of creativity in which highly sexualised and violent sequences overlap and interfere with each other that bears directly on the insights ‘A Child is Being Beaten’ reveals as to the fluidity of subject positions and perversions. Mitchell’s re-interpretation of this seminal text builds on the prominent role of siblings in Freud’s paper and makes room for an analysis of the video that is concerned with the play between sameness and difference as well as the precarity of sublimation and the infirm containment of desire.

 

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