Ann Hirsch in the reality show Frank the Entertainer: Contemporary art practice and the negotiation of femininity in the postfeminist media context


Alkisti Efthymiou




In the current media context, at the same time that the sexualization of the female body functions as an anchoring point of contemporary biopolitics, artists who place their work within the field of “feminist art” attempt to negotiate their own embodied and gendered subjectivity in terms resistant to the objectification, commercialization and sexism of late capitalism. One such artist is Ann Hirsch, whose main artistic strategy is to disturb stereotypical normative female representations in the media. In this paper, I examine the negotiation of sexuality and femininity in the case of Ann Hirsch and especially in reference to her work A Basement Affair (2010), based on her participation in a reality TV show. Drawing from the work of cultural theorist Rosalind Gill and specifically her critical approach with regard to the intensification of practices of self-promotion and self-surveillance of the female body in postfeminist media culture, I analyze Ann Hirsch’s case as a contemporary art practice that imbues exactly this self-promotion and self-surveillance with a subversive dynamic, perhaps suggesting an alternative, critical version of “sexual subjectification” (Gill, 2003; 2008).


Alkisti Efthymiou is a doctoral candidate in social anthropology. Through encounters of art and theory, her thesis focuses on love in/as crisis and the critical state of intimacy under late capitalism. Her research interests are situated in the intersection of gender, sexuality, art, and affect.