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While providing a visual analysis of the American figurative artist Kiki Smith’s “Lilith, the main purpose of this article is to associate the imagery of Lilith to the “femme fatale” character and consequently produce new connotations in terms of its cultural establishment. Consisting of verbal and visual imagery and used as a communication tool to convey certain messages, the analysis of visual reading also requires an experimental approach, considering its analysis as a process and related sub-meanings. This article uses a qualitative approach. The selected artworks for the already determined theme have been analyzed in terms of content and the descriptive analysis of “Lilith” has served as method through a hermeneutic reading so as to reflect the aesthetic subjectivity of the researcher. Since it is not possible to provide a statistical generalization of qualitative research, the analysis and depiction of the acquired findings aim at meaningful associations and interpretations of the said data. The concrete and abstract aspects of the imagery in artworks have been discussed in various readings—from concrete to abstract—and the relation of causality in terms of imaginary transformation has been in focus rather than the structuralism of plastic elements. The article aims at creating an analytical perspective based on the findings of this research. “Femme fatale”—a term originating from French and meaning ‘lethal woman’— defines a mean-spirited woman ensnaring men, especially by using sexual allure. A femme fatale—often described in the literature, cinema, and modern narrative—is a hysterical woman who is sexually insatiable. This character has become a subject of many artworks in the visual and literary fields. The imagery of Lilith, considered the first femme fatale character, is a phenomenon that retains the conceptual archetypes that allow us to examine social gender and body politics. At the same time, the female body appears as a concept transformed into an object of exploitation by the patriarchal system. Within this context the works Kiki Smith—as an artist who broke the molds of patriarchal perspective on the female imagery by challenging the existing narratives—have been discussed. Furthermore, the artist has incorporated the biological nature of the human body—the disgusting and the abject, blood and spit, bodily fluids and underwear—into her works. In the hands of the artist, fragile body parts evolve into a soft and almost haptic formal language, born out of the female psyche and body, which all could refer to subjective experiences. This shows that the artist, while approaching the “femme fatale” imagery—as used in both religious narratives and tales—rather in a criticizing manner, has reflected the female body to the space in new and subjective ways as she did in her work Lilith.

lilith, female body, feminist visual culture, femme fatale, hermeneutic


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    Dear Academicians,

    RESSJOURNAL's issue 10/5 (September 2023) is published. RESSJOURNAL's new issue (100th Anniversary Special Issue) will be published on October 29, 2023. We are waiting for your qualified articles.

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