berger see

The mirror was often used as a symbol of the vanity of woman. The moralizing, however, was mostly hypocritical. You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, you put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting Vanity, thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure. The real function of the mirror was otherwise. It was to make the woman connive in treating herself as, first and foremost, a sight.
—  John Berger - Ways of Seeing

I’ve been re-reading a lot of John Berger since he died and it has really inspired me to draw for myself for the first time in a long time. I think it would be nice if, once I’ve finished my current projects, I could take some time off the internet and re-find myself in my drawings. Either way I am still grateful for days like this when I can just read and draw and have some time alone to check in with myself.

To be born a woman has been to be born, within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men. The social presence of women has developed as a result of their ingenuity in living under such tutelage within such a limited space. But this has been at the cost of a woman’s self being split into two. A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whist she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually.
—  John Berger in Ways of Seeing

If a woman throws a glass on the floor, this is an example of how she treats her own emotion of anger and so of how she would wish it to be treated by others. If a man does the same, his action is only read as an expression of his anger.

One might simplify this by saying:
men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object – and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.

-John Berger, from Ways of Seeing

anonymous asked:

if you absolutely had to choose, which would you say is the better way of engaging w/ Ways of Seeing--as a documentatry or as an essay?

mmm difficult to say! they have different strengths. a lot of the essay is lifted verbatim from the documentary (which came first), and the second half of the documentary is women discussing the ideas raised in the essay which imo is just as valuable as a male analysis even if their expressions are less academically phrased? i especially love the contributions of the woman in the yellow jumper with the glasses.

on the other hand, i only sought out the documentary bc i loved the essay so much, and i personally really enjoy reading stuff like this bc you can linger on passages you like rather than getting rushed through by narration! this is a pdf of the written essays of Ways of Seeing (picture essays were omitted sadly). the essay on the female body is chapter 3 and is only 20 pages long. the documentary is also just 28 minutes, in case that was unclear from my post - so both very quick and accessible!! 


John Berger ‘Ways of Seeing‘, Episode 1 (1972)

R.I.P. John Berger… if some of you haven’t read his essays or seen the series above, I highly recommend it! Especially for those interested in theoretical side of the art. There should be more episodes on yt. (It doesn’t matter they’re over 40 years old, trust me)


A smattering of my summer reading list:

1. Ways Of Seeing - John Berger
2. Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari
3. Chavs - Owen Jones
4. The Spirit Level - Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett
5. The Great Divide - Joseph E. Stiglitz
6. The Price of Inequality - Joseph E. Stiglitz
7. Girl Up - Laura Bates
8. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
9. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
10. The Crimson Petal & The White - Michel Faber

Enjoying the freedom of having no set reading lists for weekly essays and revision, and slowly starting to explore dissertation themes for my proposal at the end of next term. Still in disbelief that first year is over! It feels like yesterday that I was anticipating results day and the hopes and dreams it carried with it. Best of luck to those who await results - and, in particular, to those lovely lovely prospective geographers I met whilst working on the Open Days, wherever and whoever you may be ⭐️