Ellen Cantor

Madame Bovary’s Revenge

Ellen Cantor

Madame Bovary’s Revenge


21 Sep –25 Sep 2016


20 Sep 2016, 18:00

Curated by

Synne Genzmer


Parallel Vienna, Raum 2.44, 1010 Wien

Thanks to

Ursula Blickle Video Archiv, Belvedere 21


Parallel Vienna

Women, love, pleasure: Ellen Cantor’s Madame Bovary’s Revenge reflects on romance and sexuality, but also on the oppressive aspects of gender roles and representation of women through media.

In her first film work, the artist tells a love story by referring to three female characters, who follow their own desires and break the rules of conventional society: Gustav Flaubert’s 1856 novel’s heroine Madame Bovary doesn’t keep her promise of faithfulness that is expected of a spouse; the female protagonist of Louis Malle’s Les Amants (1958), Jeanne (played by Jeanne Moreau) spends a passionate night with her lover; Marilyn Chamber’s performance in the pornographic film Behind the Green Door (1972), which was shown in regular movie theatres.

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By combining Hollywood-like scenarios with explicit sexual imagery, uncommon in classical cinema, the artist adds a strong physical component to her own film version of a romantic encounter. Ellen Cantor herself once stated, ‘My perversion is the belief in true love’. The artist not only shared her perceptions of personal desire but also expressed her critical attitude towards representation (‘Don’t trust the image’). Drawing upon various sources from the cultural history of womanhood, her work challenges normative concepts of female identity in order to open up new forms of women’s self-expression.

Ellen Cantor (b. Detroit, USA 1961–2013) was an artist working between New York and London. In the 1980s and early 1990s, she was mainly producing sculptures and paintings. Later on, she became recognized for her short films and drawings. Her work often includes fantastic narrative elements, playful and poetic notes, fragments from films, mass media, and cultural history. This unique way of storytelling weaves together subjects of love, sexuality, psychology, and politics. Cantor’s works were widely exhibited internationally. Neuer Kunstverein Wien is organizing a film retrospective at the beginning of 2017, featuring works of the artist from 1995 to 2016.

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