Michelle Sturm-Müller

KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Am Marktplatz 2

85072 Eichstätt

Michelle Sturm-Müller is an alumni of the Master’s program “Aisthesis. Culture and Media” at the Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, focusing on art history and modern German literature. She completed her master’s degree on the topic “Eve, the future – and no end in sight: The woman as automaton and as Eve 2.0. A comparison of two exhibition catalogues referring to Villiers de l’Isle Adam’s L’Ève future.”

Michelle regularly teaches at the Department of Art History, KU Eichstätt, and has worked as research assistant for the Bavarian academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Michelle’s dissertation project examines the staging of femininity in public space, using selected historical “snapshots”. The working title of her project is “Beyond the Intérieur: The staging of Femininity and Gender in Public Space”

On the Boulevards of 'Babylon': Impressionism, Fashion, and Spectacle. An enquiry into the staging of Parisian Women in Public Space (1860 – 1900)

Women play a central role in the staging of a female-coded Paris as – according to Walter Benjamin – “phantasmagoric” center of capitalism. Due to the circulation of various mediums such as travel guides, novels, fashion magazines etc., stereotypical attributions of “the Parisienne” are projected upon women in public space; the commercialization of femininity becomes key to the culture of spectacle. Therefore, the aim of the project is to critically re- and deconstruct these cultures of femininity with reference to impressionism, fashion and (poster) art.

Crucial for this analysis is the interplay between different mediums and historical discourses, which not only enables a new perspective on women in the public space of Paris, but also provides insight into the lasting power of these images intertwined with perceptions of femininity. As for that, a triangle between a female-coded Paris (1860–1900), the re-staging of spectacles of femininity at exhibitions and its subversive disruption by situationist feminists will be established and analyzed through the perspective of different media areas.

The initial point will be the enquiry into the staging of Parisian women in public spaces in the nineteenth-century. To trace the extent to which the perception of femininity changed during this period, examples from different media areas such as painting, poster art, fashion and press illustration will be selected. On this basis, however, a look at contemporary exhibition culture also will be taken: Through certain “blockbuster exhibitions”, femininity becomes a marketing-strategy which testifies the participation in the exhibition as “souvenir”. The same applies to the tourist gaze upon the performing of femininity in Paris. Here, a tourist self-location is realized in an imaginary and imagined place – a sheer construct based upon different narratives and often expressed in social media.

Thus, starting from Paris in the years from 1860 to 1900, the project will explore how images of women constituted the idea of a modern Paris and its public spaces and how the ongoing staging of these ‘spectacles’ affects today’s exhibition culture and current media landscape. Hence, selected blockbuster-exhibitions and chosen examples from contemporary art and visual culture will be examined against the backdrop of the nineteenth-century Paris.