The Matrixial Gaze

The Matrixial Gaze is a 1995 book by painter and clinical psychologist Bracha L. Ettinger.[1] It is a work of feminist film theory that examines the gaze as described by Jacques Lacan. Beginning in 1985, Ettinger's artistic practice and her articulation of her ideas culminated in what she called the matrixial theory of trans-subjectivity, a concept that has influenced debates in contemporary art, psychoanalysis, women's studies and cultural studies.

Publication and response

Ettinger's work follows the Freudian and Lacanian traditions of psyhoanalysis and challenges their phallocentric conceptualizations. Her book also examines Emmanuel Levinas, "Object-relations" theory and Gilles Deleuze/Félix Guattari and also critiques them, reformulating subject and feminine difference. Ettinger's book is considered the initiator of the Matrixial Trans-subjectivity theory, or simply "The Matrixial."[2] The book influenced discussions of subjectivity as encounter, the matrixial gaze, matrixial time, matrixial space, co-poiesis, borderlinking, borderspacing, co-emergence in differentiating and differentiating, transconnectivity, matrixial com-passion, primary compassion, compassionate hospitality, wit(h)nessing, co-fading, severality, matrixial transformational potentiality, archaic m/Other, fascinance, encounter-event, besideness, primal Mother-phantasies of Not-enoughness, devouring and abandonment, empathy within compassion, empathy without compassion, seduction into life, and metramorphosis.

Scholar Griselda Pollock writes, "The matrixial gaze emerges by a simultaneous reversal of with-in and with-out (and does not represent the eternal inside), by a transgression of borderlinks manifested in the contact with-in/-out and art work by a transcendence of the subject–object interval wihich is not a fusion, since it is based on a-priori shareability in difference."[3] Scholar Lone Bertelsen has analyzed the claims Ettinger's work makes on behalf of the "feminine," especially the "existential ethic in the feminine."[4] Pat Paxson writes that it approximates ther Lacanian gaze, "but from a different angle," adding that it is "pushed by a desire for linking and relationships."[5] Ettinger continued to explore this concept in her published work,[6] including her 2006 book, The Matrixial Borderspace. [7]


  1. ^ Ettinger Bracha L. (1995). The Matrixial Gaze. Feminist Arts & Histories Network, ISBN 9780952489900
  2. ^ Bracha L. Ettinger, "Matrixial Trans-subjectivity" in: Problematizing Global Knowledge. Theory, Culture and Society, Volum 23, Numbers 2-3, 2006.ISSN 0263-2764
  3. ^ Pollock, Griselda (1996). Generations & geographies in the visual arts: feminist readings. Psychology Press, ISBN 9780415141284
  4. ^ Bertelsen, Lone (2004). Theory, Culture & Society February 2004 vol. 21 no. 1 121-147 doi: 10.1177/0263276404040484
  5. ^ Paxson, Pat )2011). Art and Intuition: Borderlines and Boundaries: Reflections and Refractions of the Gaze in Painting Today. Xlibris, ISBN 9781462862092
  6. ^ Ettinger Bracha L. (2004). Weaving a woman artist with-in the matrixial encounter-event. Theory, culture & society, vol. 21 no. 1 69-94 doi: 10.1177/0263276404040480
  7. ^ Ettinger Bracha L. (2006). The Matrixial Borderspace. University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 9780816635870

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