Essay: The Mirror – Reflections

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An examination of the significance of the mirror in visual art with particular reference to the portrayal of women; how has the work of Helen Chadwick and other contemporary women artists challenged traditional attitudes and practices?




Mirror by Helen Chadwick (image from Sladen, M. 2004)

Heather Jukes
March 2011

MA Art and Media Practice

Essay for the Thinking Practices Module




I have chosen to research this area because I am interested in the gendered portrayal of women in art. I came across Helen Chadwick’s Of Mutability at a retrospective of her work at the Barbican Art Gallery in 2004. I was fascinated by this piece particularly from the angle of the artist’s use of her own body. She showed her naked body (as photocopies) amongst a cornucopia of photocopied animal and vegetable matter and reflected the whole in a small engraved Venetian mirror.

The female body and mirrors have repeatedly featured in visual art over the centuries. It is the purpose of this essay to examine the reasons behind the use of the mirror particularly in association with the female nude. The starting point will be a description of Helen Chadwick’s, Of Mutability, arguably her most significant work, which was first shown in 1986. The next two sections will examine theories of the mirror in mythology and religion, and the psychology of self identity and spectatorship. Applications of the theory will be drawn from the field of art and literature featuring the mirror and reflection. In a final section, Chadwick’s work, Of Mutability will be re-examined in the light of the essay’s findings.

Of Mutability by Helen Chadwick

Of Mutability was the title Helen Chadwick gave to a group of interrelated pieces of work that she first installed at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London in 1986. The group comprised three parts, The Oval Court, Carcass and Mirror, illustrated in Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4 .


Figure 1, Chadwick, H, The Oval Court & Carcass

Figure 2, Chadwick, H, The Oval Court, detail



In the centre of the installation was the largest piece, The Oval Court (Figures 1 and 2), a paper collage, laid on a raised horizontal platform and surrounded by tall columns surmounted by images of the artist’s weeping face on paper hung like wallpaper. The collage was made up of blue toned photocopied images of Chadwick’s naked body in a swirl of objects, mostly of animal and vegetable origin. This collage had twelve identifiable sections; in each section Chadwick’s eyes are masked or closed. In one she holds a Venetian mirror engraved with a pair of open weeping eyes. Five gilded spheres were arranged on the collage. In the next room, visible through an open door, was the piece Carcass (Figure 3). Carcass was a two metre high rectangular glass column full of rotting vegetable matter, some of which was the discarded decaying fruit and vegetables used for The Oval Court. Completing the installation was Mirror (Figure 4).

Figure 3, Chadwick, H, Carcass

Figure 4, Chadwick, H, Mirror

This was the actual Venetian glass mirror which featured in the collage.  Mirror was positioned low down between two columns reflecting the entirety of The Oval Court.








The mirror in mythology and fable, religion and folklore.

Mythology and Fable

Studies and theories around the mirror and the reflection it creates go back at least to Greek mythology. According to legend (Parada, 1997) Narcissus was a youth of great beauty who spurned all those who desired him. In response to the concern of his mother, Liriope, Tiresias prophesised that Narcissus would live to a good age “if he didn’t come to know himself” (Ovid, date unknown). When as a youth Narcissus saw his reflection in a pool of water he fell in love with his own image. As divine punishment for this vanity he remained transfixed by his own beautiful reflection and wasted away and died. The deadly consequence of narcissism is also the theme of Snow White, a North European fairy tale (Vandergrift, 1997) with the famous question ’Mirror, mirror on the wall/ Who in the land is fairest of all?’. The Queen cannot accept that the magic mirror tells her that her step-daughter Snow White is fairer than she; despite all efforts to kill the young Snow White, it is in the end, the Queen, who dies as a judgement on her narcissistic envy. This narcissism was also the subject of Oscar Wilde’s novel, A Picture of Dorian Gray, in which the handsome youth Dorian exchanges the ageing process with a portrait of himself; he thus preserves the beauty of his youth while his portrait ages (Figure 5). Other artists and writers have also drawn on this mythology, one of the most famous being Caravaggio’s Narcissus (Figure 6). The male in love with his own image, painted by the homosexual, Caravaggio, is an interesting beginning to centuries of art and philosophy which critique the female as a subject of her own vanity.

Figure 5, Dorian Gray, Book Cover







Figure 6, Carravaggio, Narcissus







Religion and folklore

Jean Delumeau (2002), in his preface to Sabine Melchior-Bonnet’s The Mirror: A History, explains the author’s ideas about the ambivalence of the mirror. On the one hand it presents untainted divine associations. ‘Many painters represented Mary and the baby Jesus holding a mirror. One also said in the Middle Ages that that God is the perfect mirror because “he is a shining mirror unto himself”. Furthermore, Plato affirmed that the soul is the reflection of the divine.’ (Delumeau, 2002, p x). On the other hand the mirror was a deceptive tool. It was not to be trusted. It showed the right hand in the mirror as the left hand in the reflection. It also taught trickery and manipulation of appearance (ibid, xi). In Melchior-Bonnet’s thesis, to gaze in the mirror is to strive to regain the resemblance that unites man with his creator; at the same time the individual is trying to understand the many faces of self. Jay (1994, p31, 37) also comments that mirrors reflect Christian truth, thus also picking up on the divine implications. The Virgin Mary is also referenced in some notes on the mirror on the Fitzwilliam Museum website (Fitzwilliam Museum, undated) Here in a discussion on how, in Christian art, the mirror came to represent the eternal purity of the Virgin Mary, the medieval writer Jacobus de Voragine is quoted:
“As the sun permeates glass without violating it, so Mary became a mother without losing her virginity… She is called a mirror because of her representation of things, for as all things are reflected from a mirror, so in the blessed Virgin, as in the mirror of God, ought all to see their impurities and spots, and purify them and correct them: for the proud, beholding her humility see their blemishes, the avaricious see theirs in her poverty, the lovers of pleasures, theirs in her virginity.”
Whether or not one believes in the importance of virginity or indeed in biblical doctrine, this passage shows how the Christian religion is steeped in the rhetoric of the saintly aspect of purity in the woman.
From a secular aspect, Melchior-Bonnet (2002, p106), in discussing how it is to properly know ones self, says that beyond the physical mirror is the true mirror, the one presented by the lover or friend who offers his eyes and his own soul as mirrors. The lover’s view is indeed, blinded by love; one only sees what one wants to see in a lover’s persona. The interrelationship of two people to create likemindedness is used in Shakespeare’s Julies Caesar. In this play, Elkisch (1957) points out that Cassius sees himself as a mirror for Brutus in persuading Brutus to agree and conspire with him in the killing of Caesar. Cassius says:
I your glass
Will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.
SHAKESPEARE: Julius Caesar, I:2
There are longstanding superstitions regarding the response of the soul on breaking a mirror. The broken mirror is said to anger the soul which then extracts seven years bad luck. The seven years relates to the Roman belief (Lavin, 1999) that life renews itself every seven years. An association of mirrors with death is common in folklore according to Lavin (1999), and stems from the belief that the soul could become trapped in a mirror, causing death. In some cultures, young children were not allowed to look in a mirror until they were at least a year old. Mirrors were covered during sleep or illness so that the soul, in its wanderings, would not become trapped and unable to return to the body. After a death in the family, mirrors were also covered or turned to the wall to prevent the soul of the newly departed from becoming caught in the mirror, delaying its journey to the afterlife.

The mirror and theories of psychology, gaze and spectatorship


At its simplest the mirror reflects what is positioned before it. In viewing ourselves in a mirror, we see what we recognise as self although this reflection is an image reversal of what others see in looking at us. Theories about the developmental age that we achieve this self recognition were formulated by Jacques Lacan, (1901 – 1981) the French philosopher. He based his ideas on the human infant’s response to its image in the mirror. In 1949 Lacan (Lacan in Harrison and Wood, 1992) coined the term le stade du miroir, literally, the ‘mirror phase’ as the pre-linguistic stage at which the infant makes a distinction between himself and his mother in the reflection in the mirror. With this comes the beginning of recognition of separation from the mother which in turn leads to the child’s first understandings of self identity. Lacan’s theory is not about the mirror as a reflection of self, but about the mirror as the constituitive element in the construction of the self’ (Sturken and Cartwright, 2008, p 121). Lacan believed (Lacan in Harrison and Wood, 1992) that at this point the child develops an essential libidinal relationship with his body image. (I think this libidinal stage recognised by Lacan is equivalent to the self admiration of the mythological Narcissus, although the chronology is different). In the mirror stage the infant assumes an image. This marks a decisive turning-point in the mental development of the child. Sigmund Freud’s theories on self identity (Grosz, 1990) are also male gender based, and pre-date Lacan’s mirror theory and are concerned with three aspects, the id, ego and super ego. The id is seen as a sort of unconscious willfulness to do with social and sexual impulses. The ego is a kind of agency which transforms and moderates the will of the id into action. The super-ego develops in the male child and is formed through identification with the father figure; the super ego dominates the ego. So the development of the ego/super ego is the basis to self identity. Both Lacan and Freud viewed the development of the sexual psyche as being male dominated. In Freud’s terms, development of male sexuality was to do with the fear of castration, and a resulting phallocentric identity. Whereas woman, considered by Freud to be already castrated, becomes “other” – a mirror of male desire, as in Narcissus’ reflection, a role, or an image. Grosz (1990, p 140) discusses two possible feminist responses to Lacanian and Freudian phallocentric theory. On the one hand there are those (eg Julia Kristeva, Mary Kelly in making her piece, Post-partum Document) who consider Lacan’s work as a means of describing patriarchal power. On the other there are those who reject it outright (eg Germaine Greer). My own view is determined by my varied experiences as a woman including bringing up two daughters, and what I understand of psychoanalytic theory. I accept some of Lacan’s ideas, but I question the domination of this area of research by sight, its ocular-centric nature. What we experience with our non-visual senses (eg aural, tactile) is also important in our development of self identity including our gendered identity. Also, as a woman, I find a theory based on the male as the default ill-considered. Freud’s theory on male sexuality based on his visual recognition of his male self draws the following comment from Luce Irigaray (quoted by Whitney Chadwick, 1998, p 80): ‘The masculine can partly look at itself, speculate about itself, represent itself and describe itself for what it is, whilst the feminine can try to speak to itself through a new language, but cannot describe itself from outside or in formal terms, except by identifying itself with the masculine, thus by loosing itself.’ This relationship of the female to the male is reinforced by Christian doctrine, God first makes Adam in his own image and then makes Eve, the first woman, not independently, but from Adam:
21And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. (Genesis 2, 21 – 23)
Paternalistic social/sexual norms in many human societies have thus defined the female as secondary to the male. John Berger (1972) simplifies this as ‘men act and women appear’. The conventional biological signifiers reinforce this with the female (♀) corresponding with the non-moving ovum, and the male (♂) with the self propelling spermatozoon.

Gaze and Spectatorship

Linking together the development of self identity, the historical ideas of woman as other, the perceived narcissism of woman and the persistent culture of woman as subordinate, leads, not surprisingly, to a very narrow representation of the female in art. John Berger (1972, p47) expands on the background to this in Ways of Seeing:
‘…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.’
As a consequence, traditionally in Western Art, the woman has been painted/sculpted nude or partially nude as an object from the (male) spectator’s view for his pleasure. The viewer spectates; a gaze is constituted through a relational field (Sturken and Cartwright, 2008, p 104). The viewer gazes at the woman; there is an implication that the woman is aware of being spectated. The gaze establishes a relationship of power. The act of the spectator (man) in looking is more powerful than the object of the gaze (woman). The spectator is dominant, the object of the gaze is subjugated (ibid, p 111). The female is the fetishised object that the male desires and admires in looking at. She possesses the quality of “to-be-looked-at-ness”, whereas the male possess the ability to look, taking pleasure in looking at the female (Paul, N, 2004). This binary opposition (male subject/female object) is also seen in other examples such as white/black and culture/nature. Its consequence is the denigration of one half of the pairing by the dominant other half. The objectified female is passive; as Berger said ‘men act and women appear’.

The mirror is the central device in some of the most reproduced European paintings: Jan Van Eyck’s Marriage of Arnolfini, Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas and Edouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. ( In each of these the mirror adds another element, often focusing on a central female figure. Berger’s observation that ‘men act and women appear’ is clearly shown in Tintoretto’s Susannah and the Elders (Figure 7). He painted other versions too with the same title. We look at Susannah, and she looks in a mirror. She is surrounded by the accoutrements of grooming and is making herself beautiful for the men in the painting who spy on her and the men who view the painting.

Figure 7, Tintoretto, Susannah and the Elders

The whole is an invitation to spectate. However, the woman, whose nakedness has been presented for the pleasure of the (male) viewer, is at the same time, condemned for her vanity (she looks at herself in the mirror). In other words ‘the convention of the mirror establishes her gaze as narcissistic’. (Sturken and Cartwright, 2008, p 124). At the same time, Tintoretto shows, it is a code for femininity.
The contemporaneous Venetian painters Titian and Veronese both created versions of the Greek goddess Venus with a mirror. (Figures 8 and 9) In Titian’s Venus with a Mirror (1555), the goddess, in the presence of two cupid-like figures, gazes at her reflection, and we the viewer, in turn gaze at her. Whereas in Veronese’s Venus with a Mirror (1580s) we see the naked back of Venus as she proudly admires her reflection in the mirror, this reflection creating the gaze that we meet. The later (c.1649) Rokeby Venus by Diego Velázquez (Figure 10) also presents the goddess’s back, and was the subject of a Feminist attack in the early 1900s at the National Gallery, London. All three of these pieces, like Tintoretto’s, present the woman as vain.

Figure 8, Titian, Venus with a Mirror

Figure 9, Veronese, Venus with a Mirror

Figure 10, Velasquez, Venus

Art of these early centuries (invariably made by male artists and viewed by male owners) does not interrogate the female image as a quest for self-knowledge. How do women present women? In the making of art, Whitney Chadwick (1998) comments in a discourse on Women, Surrealism and Self-Representation, ‘For women artists, the problems of self-representation have remained inextricably bound up with internalisation of the images of her “otherness”.’ Women have always been cast in the role of either nature or matter.
Contemporary feminist women artists have used the mirror in portraiture and self-portraiture in ways to depict self analysis/self knowledge and to subvert the male gaze.

In The Mirror (1952), shown in Figure 11, Dorothea Tanning parodied the association of feminine with vanity.

Figure 11, Tanning, D, The Mirror

In this complex painting, a sunflower bud holds up an open flower as a mirror without reflection. The whole is captured within a further mirror in the form of an eye, the eyelashes formed as sunflower petals. But although the anthropomorphism suggests a woman gazing at her own image, the missing element (reflection), leaves any association of narcissism with femininity unstated, and creates embarrassment on the part of the viewer for presuming. We, the viewer, are now implicated in this uncomfortable narrative and need to think about self identity rather than vanity for a truer meaning.

Ana Mendieta in the 1970s made a large series of Siluetas, (Viso, 2004) where she impressed her body into the landscape as a statement of belonging. As a form of self portraiture her interventions have connections with the mirror and identity in its reflective physical representation.

According to Salomon Grinberg (Grinberg, 1998) in an essay on Frida Kahlo, the artist lived surrounded by mirrors as she was uneasy about her sense of self. Photographs of Kahlo by Lola Alvarez Bravo, were, Grinberg asserts, often taken with the subject sitting by or reflected in a mirror. Many of Kahlo’s self portraits showed ‘two versions’ of her, even without the physical presence of a mirror (Figure 12). This particular image, The Two Fridas, painted in 1939 at the time of her divorce from Diego Rivera, shows two representations of her, each supporting the other by means of its exposed heart linked by a connecting blood vessel.

Figure 12, Kahlo, F, The Two Fridas

Kahlo explained that the Frida on the right is sustained by the love of Rivera (she holds a tiny portrait of him); the Frida on the left is dying as her blood drips away and stains her white dress. This and other images by Kahlo are self reflective like a mirror; the viewer is absorbed into the narrative, but there is no traditional relational gaze. Even in Kahlo’s self portraits which explore her damaged body, there is no invitation to spectate/dominate or scopophilia.

Cindy Sherman regularly used herself presented as different characters, often gazing into a mirror, in her work. She poses questions on self and identity; in seeing her and her reflection the viewer is uneasy, as her gaze into her mirrored reflection becomes in turn a gaze projected on the viewer. Untitled Film Still (1980), shown in Figure 13 is just one such image.

Figure 13, Sherman, C, Untitled Film Still

In contemporary art this reversal of the spectator and object has also been reworked in gendered terms. Two interesting examples are Laurie Anderson’s Object/Objection/Objectivity (1973/2003) and Sam Taylor-Wood’s video, David (2004). Anderson solicited sexist remarks from men in New York by merely walking past them. ( In response to comments such as “I’d like a piece of you, baby”, Anderson turned her camera on the man. The resulting photos currently on show at the Barbican Art Gallery (Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, 2011) allow us to be the spectators of his diverted gaze, annoyance and embarrassment. Taylor-Wood’s David ( gives the female spectator an intimate opportunity to gaze at the sleeping iconic footballer (David Beckham) which completely inverts the traditional male gaze/woman objectified scenario. It may also reference Michaelangelo’s David

Helen Chadwick’s Of Mutability revisited

Kathy Battista (2011) recently wrote: ‘In the 1970s……..some artists engaged in performances that featured their naked bodies or focussed on the biological aspects of gender…(they) believed that the use of the body – particularly that of the artist herself – elevated the female form from muse to master while exposing previously taboo subjects. …..others refused to engage with nudity, fearing that artistic intention did not equate to reception, thus appearing to avoid a perceived dangerous interstitial space where performance could morph into titillation.’
In most of her artistic output Helen Chadwick embraced the use of her body (naked and clothed) both in performance pieces and in installation work. In Of Mutability she shows, using blue toned photocopies, her naked body juxtaposed with a plethora of organic and inorganic matter – fruit, vegetables, white mice, rabbits, fish, seaweed, pearls, a lamb, a goose, feathers, lace and ribbons. She wears a crucifix; her eyes are closed or masked. Superimposed on the watery blue pool are five golden spheres positioned in an arc, and overlooking the whole is a Venetian mirror with crying eyes. The online archives of Chadwick’s work (Helen Chadwick’s notebooks,–helen-chadwick-notebooks) contain extensive documentation and research for this piece. There are references to the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem; to the literary metaphysical pleasures of the Garden; biblical and literary references to eyes, tears and mirrors; and to classical art and architecture. In addition, Chadwick’s sketchbooks are held at the V&A archive and can be viewed. Art writers too, such as Marina Warner and contributors of essays to the catalogue of the 2004 Helen Chadwick retrospective exhibition have made valuable contributions to the literature on this artist.

All of the above provide rich sources of explanation and theory relevant to the themes of this essay.
On the use of her body Chadwick does initially seem to be perpetuating the objectification of women. Although she was sympathetic to theoretical feminism, she could not see the body as a no-go area to explore themes of sexuality and desire. She is quoted by Mary Horlock (2004): ‘I was looking for a vocabulary for desire where I was the subject and the author and the object; I felt that by directly taking all these roles, the normal situation in which the viewer operated as a kind of voyeur broke down’. The positioning of Mirror to reflect the collaged images, in one way makes the mirror’s eyes, and no-one else, the viewer. She thought it might be possible: ‘to make images of the body that would somehow circumnavigate that so-called male gaze’. (Chadwick, 1996 in an interview with Mark Haworth-Booth)
In addition to this, the fact that her eyes are closed/masked could be to do with ignoring the male gaze – if the object of the gaze cannot register it, then the gaze becomes inconsequential. Nevertheless, there is no doubting how Chadwick’s wished to portray herself. In her notes she writes: ‘woman as strong independent, sexual and erotic’ (Helen Chadwick, Notebook c. 1984 – 1992 pp 90/91)

On the relationship between eyes, tears and mirrors, weeping eyes appear in three parts of The Oval Court: first, screwed up in her own crying face above the columns; second, in Mirror the open tearful eyes are engraved on the mirror glass (see Figure 4); and third in the same mirror held by the artist’s hand in one of the twelve collaged sections of the pool. According to Eva Martischnig (2004) who also studied the archived notes of Chadwick’s, Of Mutability, the artist sought to express the power of love through the weeping eyes taking the face of Christ as pure love. The Bible records Christ’s tears as being synonymous with love, after the death of Lazarus: ‘Jesus wept. The Jews said, “How dearly he must have loved him”’ (John, 11, The New English Bible).

The mirror, Chadwick says: ‘like the apple in Eden, gives self knowledge, self consciousness’; (Helen Chadwick, Notebook c. 1984 – 1992, pp 88/89) at the same time the mirror is the face of Christ and represents the threshold between divine love and the paradisiacal pleasures of the garden. Martischnig (2004, p53) quotes Chadwick:
‘If a flower can serve as the Passion + body of Christ + wine as blood then let a mirror be the Face, Let the face be an act of communion too……Let us share his image, in looking. A melancholy communion caught in the vanity of feeling of love.’

Chadwick’s reflection in the mirror united with the divine weeping eyes demonstrates a fusion of her image and God’s love. There is therefore an implied divine acceptance of her pleasures in the pool. The positioning of the five golden spheres seems to reinforce this divine explanation. According to Rachel Campbell-Johnson (2004): ‘her (Chadwick’s) student thesis was about the hand of God in medieval iconography’ and that the spheres: ‘rest as delicately upon the surface as the fingerprints of some creator’s hand’. This again supports the argument that The Oval Court shows God’s blessing of woman’s pleasure in her physicality. It seems from her notes (Chadwick, V&A Archive) that the artist’s own hand was actually used in the planning of the proportions and positions of the spheres.

In summary, in her creation of Of Mutability, Helen Chadwick borrowed from mythology, psychology, religion, art and literature. She used her body not as an invitation to gaze, but as a statement concerning the power of the female body. Its position as an element of all the animal and plant matter in her Garden of Eden celebrates pleasure and is authorised, indeed blessed, by the hand of God. Woman is not expelled from this paradise, this vision is pre-lapsarian; neither is she subservient to man, she is an independent being. The mirror is the face of God in which her being is reflected. This is reinforced by her statement:
‘Central to the idea of the garden paradise is the female body, as a fundamental element of nature, the embodiment of nature, not in the sense of ‘Mother Nature,’ but as a projection of self.’


This essay has illustrated the fact that there is in the West a long history in visual art of the portrayal of the female body for the gaze of man. This involves the assumption of woman being secondary to man, which itself is backed by twentieth century psychology, ancient biblical writings and mythological allegory. The mirror has a place in all these areas of study; it has traditionally been seen as a vehicle for female vanity, a trigger for the development of self identity and a channel for divine powers.

Contemporary female artists have explored these areas and responded by making work which challenges gender stereotyping. Their work has moved away from the narrow (male) depiction of vanity. The use of mirror imagery by women artists has opened up and subverted false images of womanhood and enabled a confrontation with one’s true image without the need to become the victim of narcissistic obsession or exploitation (Jakubowska, 2004). Helen Chadwick’s Of Mutability is a particularly comprehensive response to these concerns in its celebration of female identity and power.

References – complete list of all sources

Anderson, Laurie [Online] Available from: [Accessed 28/03/11]

Battista, K. 2011, Performing Feminism. Art Monthly. 343. pp 5 – 8.

Berger, J. 1972. Ways of Seeing. London: The British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin Books Ltd.

Campbell-Johnson, R. 2004. Helen Chadwick – more than shock tactics. The Times. April 28.

Chadwick, H. Sketchbook 1, V&A Archive AAD/2002/1/179/Q10 and Q11.

Chadwick, H. 1989. Quoted by Warner, M. In the Garden of Delights. In: Chadwick, H. Enfleshings. London: Secker and Warburg. p 58.

Chadwick, H. 1991. De light. Philadelphia: Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.

Chadwick, H. Helen Chadwick (1963 – 1996) Notebook, c.1984 – 1992. [Online] Available from:–helen-chadwick-notebooks [Accessed: 11/01/11, 28/03/11, 28/03/11, 30/03/11]

Chadwick, H. 1996. In: Interview with Mark Haworth-Booth. In: Chalmers, G. (ed). Helen Chadwick, Stilled Lives. Edinburgh: Portfolio Gallery.

Chadwick, H. quoted by Horlock, M. 2004. Between a Rock and a Soft Place. In: Sladen, M. (ed). Helen Chadwick: A Retrospective, Catalogue of the Exhibition, Barbican Art Gallery. London. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag. page 37.

Chadwick, W. 1998. An Infinite play of Empty Mirrors: Women, Surrealism and Self-Representation. In: Chadwick, W. (ed). Mirror Images: Women, Surrealism and Self-Representation. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, pp 2 – 35.

Delumeau, J. Preface. In: Melchior-Bonnet, S. 2002. The Mirror: A History. London: Routledge, pp vii – xi.

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Grosz, E. 1990. Jacques Lacan. A Feminist Introduction. London: Routledge

Horlock, M. 2004. Between a Rock and a Soft Place. In: Sladon, M. Helen Chadwick: published on the occasion of the retrospective exhibition at the Barbican, London. Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag. pp 33 – 46.

Jakubowska, A. 2004. Lustereczko, lustereczko powiedz przecie [Mirror, mirror, on the wall]. Konteksty: Polska Sztuka Ludowa, vol. 58, pt 1-2, pp 149-152.

Jay, M. 1994. Downcast Eyes. The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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Lacan, J. 1968. The Mirror-Phase as Formative of the Function of the I. In: Harrison, C & Wood, P. (eds). 1992. Art in Theory 1900-1990. London: Blackwell. pp 620- 624.

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Martischnig, E. 2004. Citing the Archive of the Life and Work of Helen Chadwick, The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds. In: ‘Getting Inside the Artist’s Head’. In Sladen, M. (ed). Helen Chadwick: A Retrospective, Catalogue of the Exhibition, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 2004. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2004, p 53.

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Paul, N. 2004. Other Ways of Looking: The Female Gaze in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 14/03/11]

Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970s. Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown, Gordon Matta-Clarke. Barbican Art Gallery, March 3 – May 22, 2011. Visited 17/03/11
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References – online sources

Anderson, Laurie [Online] Available from: [Accessed 28/03/11]

Chadwick, H. Helen Chadwick (1963 – 1996) Notebook, c.1984 – 1992. [Online] Available from:–helen-chadwick-notebooks [Accessed: 11/01/11, 28/03/11, 28/03/11, 30/03/11]

Donovan, S K. 2005. Luce Irigaray (1932-present). [Online] Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Available from: [Accessed 10/01/11]

Elkisch, P. 1957. The Psychological Significance of the Mirror. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association [Online] 5 p235-244. Available from: [Accessed 25/01/11]

Fitzwilliam Museum. Signs and Symbols: Mirrors, unauthored, undated, [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 09/01/11]

Genesis 2. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 31/01/11]

Lavin, M. 1999. The Mirror. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 09/01/11]

Ovid, in Metamorphoses, book 3 (completed 8 AD). Unauthored comment at [Accessed 31/01/11]

Parada, C. 1997. Narcissus. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 30/03/11]

Paul, N. 2004. Other Ways of Looking: The Female Gaze in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea. [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 14/03/11]
Sturken, M & Cartwright, L. 2008. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 93-139. Available from [Accessed: 10/01/11]
Taylor-Wood, S. 2004. David. Available from: [Accessed 15/03/11]
Vandergrift, K. 1997. Snow White Text. Available at: [Accessed 15/02/11]

Image sources

Figure 1
Chadwick, H. Of Mutability, The Oval Court and Carcass, 1986. Photocopies on paper, organic matter and glass. As installed at The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
Image from Chadwick, H.1989. Enfleshings. London: Secker and Warburg. p 63.

Figure 2
Chadwick, H. Of Mutability, The Oval Court, (from above), 1986, photocopies on paper. As installed at The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
Image from Chadwick, Helen, Enfleshings, London: Secker and Warburg, 1989, page 49.

Figure 3
Chadwick, H. Of Mutability, Carcass, 1986, organic matter and glass, 291 x 61cm. As installed at The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
Image from Sladen, Mark (ed), Helen Chadwick: A Retrospective, Catalogue of the Exhibition, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 2004, Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2004, page 75.

Figure 4 (and front page)
Chadwick, H. Of Mutability, Mirror, 1986, engraved Venetian glass, 30 x 15 x 2cm. As installed at The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
Image from Sladen, Mark (ed), Helen Chadwick: A Retrospective, Catalogue of the Exhibition, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 2004, Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2004, page 65.

Figure 5
Unknown artist. Dorian Gray Book cover.
Image from [accessed on 30/03/11]

Figure 6
Caravaggio. Narcissus. Oil on canvas, 116 x 98 cm, 1597
Image from [accessed on 30/03/11]

Figure 7
Tintoretto. Susanna and the Elders. Oil on canvas, 147 × 194 cm, 1560-62
Image from [accessed on 30/03/11]

Figure 8
Titian. Venus with a Mirror. Oil on canvas, 124.5 x 105.5 cm c. 1555
Image from [accessed on 30/03/11]

Figure 9
Veronese, Venus with a Mirror. Oil on canvas, 1580s
Image from [accessed on 30/03/11]

Figure 10
Velázquez, D. Rokeby Venus. Oil on canvas, 70 x 48 in, 1649.
Image from [accessed on 30/03/11]

Figure 11
Tanning, D. The Mirror. Oil on canvas, 12 x 18 1/4 in, 1951
Image from [accessed on 30/03/11]

Figure 12
Kahlo, F. The Two Fridas. Oil on canvas, 67 x 67 in, 1939.
Image from [accessed on 30/03/11]

Figure 13
Sherman, C. Untitled Film Still, 1980
Image from [accessed on 30/03/11]


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1 Response to Essay: The Mirror – Reflections

  1. Pingback: Nature, Culture, and Lacan | Minimal ve Maksimal Yazılar

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