• “Do you feel held?” Queering an infrastructure of empathy in Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019)

Richards, Jennifer and Ollett, Robyn, 2023, Conference or Workshop, “Do you feel held?” Queering an infrastructure of empathy in Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019) at LGBTQ+ and Screen Studies Symposium at the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies, UK, 25 May 2023.

Abstract or Description:

In Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in America (2005), authors Harry M Benshoff and Sean Griffin argue that Queer audiences have been drawn to the Horror film in particular as a way to access and reflect their sense of identity and community and to reclaim their own narratives. Ari Aster’s protagonist in Midsommar (2019), experiences a major upheaval in her life and begins a journey of enlightenment which appears to offer her an alternative to the trauma of a heteropatriarchal trajectory. Dani (Florence Pugh) is taken in by the Harga community as one of their own: at first the lifestyle and philosophical changes are disorientating, however, she slowly becomes enveloped, treasured, and held dear by the community. In this paper, approached from the dual perspective of Queer Gothic Studies and Fashion Studies, we explore the alternative infrastructure of empathy and kinship offered by the Harga community, tracing the significant design choices in the set and costumes used to narrate queer becoming via an immersive sensory feast. Following David Halperin’s definition of Queer Theory (2003) as an inclusive signifier that seeks to dismantle identities and categorisation, we will offer a reading of Midsommar which celebrates how the accumulation of bold embroidery, runic symbolism and floral motifs parodies structures based in capitalism. Flowers bloom and contract, colours scream in their saturation, and clothes engulf: Our paper will contend that the queer appeal of this film extends beyond notions of perversion and excess in its effective communication of social critique via visually arresting design.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
School or Centre: School of Design
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2024 14:31
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2024 14:31
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5576
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