Dreaming in Feminine: Grete Stern's photomontages
and the parody of psychoanalysis


David William Foster
Arizona State University


Las mujeres hicieron la fotografía en la Argentina. Somos suficientes; yo incluida.
Sara Facio 195


I would like to propose that the motivating semiotic principle behind Grete Stern's photomontages is the need to create a language for women's dreams; this language may be, in a first instance, sympathetic with the repression and oppres­sion of women, and in a second instance it may be critical of the pscyhoanalytic project with regard to women's experiences.

Stern's Sueños were published at a time when there was still a considerable amount of interest in the Freudian con­cept of dreams, (1) and Stern, who was born in Germany in 1904 and who worked in Argentina be­tween 1936 and until the late 1990s (she died in Germany in late 1999), was undoubtedly quite famil­iar with psy­choanalysis, both as it had been pro­mulgated by Freud in Europe and as it had put down such deep roots in Argentina (Vezzetti; Plotkin; see Bécquer Casaballe for an overview of Stern's career; other published volumes of Stern's work are cited in my list of References). Moreover, Stern was, like Freud, Jewish (her mother com­mitted suicide in 1935 be­cause of grow­ing anti-Semitism), and she would have had the Jewish ar­tist/intellectual's interest of her day in sociocul­tural anal­ysis (and in photography as an important form of Jewish cul­tural produc­tion). The introducto­ry note to the published collection of the Sueños describes their origin:

Grete Stern publicó en la revista Idilio [entre 1948 y 1950] cerca de 150 fotomontajes de la serie dedicada a los sueños. De esa obra sólo existen, en la ac­tualidad, 45 ne­gativos foto­gráficos--de éstos se conserva un único ejemplar--que la autora entre­gaba a la redac­ción de la revista. (59)

Idilio was a woman's magazine of the typical sort that was published in the mid-twentieth century, which mixed images of tra­ditional roles for women with images of bourgeois moder­nity, al­though, from the perspective of today, it would still be called essentially a masculinist version of women's lives; see the sort of coverage of women's lives provided in post-war USA by the Ladies Home Journal. Stern's photomontages appear in a section of the magazine called "El psicoanálisis le ayu­dará," a formulation that represented the popularization of psychoanalysis during the Pero­nista prosperity of the period beyond the highly professionalized and elitist confines of clinical practice and research undertak­ings. Apparently, the practice was for women to submit to the maga­zine the text of the dreams, and Stern would create a photomontage to accompany their publication. The fact that over two-thirds of the origi­nals have disappeared and that the magazine is virtually im­possible to locate indicates the ephemeral nature of the en­ter­prise, and one wonders to what degree Stern saw it as cen­tral­ly related to her oeuvre as a photographer.

Yet, there has been exceptional interest in this dimen­sion of Stern's work, and one could easily maintain that, were it not for the Sueños, Stern would be counted as just another of the legion of photographers who have done exceptionally fine work in Argentina since the emergence of profes­sional photography as early as the middle of the nine­teenth century. One is reminded of the con­temporary work of the French emigrée in Buenos Aires, Giselle (Gisèle) Freund, who is most remembered in Argentina as one of the most impor­tant photographers of Eva Perón, a body of legendary imag­es (they are prominently featured in Alicia Dujovne Or­tiz's biog­ra­phy Eva Perón) that has overwhelmed any other work Freund may have done (Facio 198; see also 84-86).

Stern, however, was an exceptional artist and renowned por­traitist, and her work is very much in the same vein as subse­quent women photographers like Alicia D'Amico and Sara Facio (the director of La Azotea Editorial Fotográfica) and, among younger photographers, Adriana Lestido and Gabriela Liff­schitz (Lestido is a Guggenheim fellow, and her project, Madres e hijas, has just been published by Facio; see the various studies by Foster). There are several hundred refer­ences on the internet to Stern's photogra­phy, and the most frequently visited ones that I have consult­ed all included prominently the Sueños. I think it is clear that the impor­tance now accorded the Sueños has very much to do with the feminist analysis of culture, both in the way in which Stern's work can be seen to intervene in cultural pro­duc­tion (male dominated photography in this case) from a (pro­to)femin­ist perspective, and the way in which Sterns photo­graphs lend them­selves for a feminist reading as part of a feminist survey of cultural productions regarding women's lives. Certainly, Stern's work enjoys intertextual relations with other feminist work of the same period, and one recalls the psychoanalytic dimensions of the Cata­lan/Mexican Remedios Varo's surrealist paintings in general and, specifically, the anticipation of the feminist critique of classic psychoanaly­sis in her 1960 Mujer saliendo del psi­coanalista (Remedios Varo 71). (2)

There as an entire gamut of undoubtedly classical psycho­analytic motifs in Stern's Sueños, which are intertwined with widely recognized motifs of the particular traumas of women's lives. In­deed, in the latter sense, Stern's photomontages are something like an inventory of topoi of women's lives as re­gards their repression and oppression by masculinism. More­over, these works figure a bour­geois patriarchy, such that the par­ticular control of women through the principles of decen­cy and propriety are particularly evident. Although none of this work alludes recognizably to a ques­tioning of heterosex­ism or even to female erotic imagination--per­haps this is part of the hundred lost images; perhaps letters from women of this sort were not forwarded to Stern for illustration--it is not preposterous to propose that such dimensions are as much a part of the silent text of women's lives as what is overtly por­trayed belongs to what is allowed by the circumstances of the pro­duction and publication (and archival survival) that made the Sue­ños possible. (3)

A survey of what is included in Sueños reveals the fol­low­ing details. In terms of circumstances of women's lives (and I repeat, this is a universe of women whose clothing, grooming, and body language adhere to middle-class respect­ability--which perhaps only makes the images all that more eloquent), we see women engaged in paradigmatically fe­male/feminine activities such as cleaning house (a singular ac­tivity of the domestic sphere), staring dreamily off into space (the evocation of woman's purported­ly superior emotional sensitivity, or, conversely, her inability to focus on the practical and pragmatic), displaying her availability as a sexualized body (thereby fulfilling the injunction to seduce men into procreative activity), performing for the cultural edifi­cation of an audience (women as accomplished decorative beings), engaging in maternal care (the paradigma­tic role of women as the key figures in patriarchal reproduc­tion). In all of these images, women are properly and dis­cretely dressed in ways that confirm their middle-class stature.

Since Stern did photograph among the rural and suburban popu­lations of Argen­tina, so these photographs can be alleged to reveal any class bias. Rather, they capture the social identi­ty of the women who were the presumed typical readers of Idi­lio, those who would be in a position to submit to the edi­tors texts des­crib­ing their dreams. It is in only some of the pho­tomontages that the subjects are engaged in characteristi­cally womanly activities; in the majority they are seen only in terms of confronting threatening situations: dreams as the site of the rep­resentation of conflict and its attempted reso­lution, even if only absurdly. What is important to underscore here is the fact that in no cases are women seen engaged in activities that would be consid­ered unfeminine by the strict bourgeois standards of Argentina of the day (only in a handful of cases are women directly eroticized, but always in the context of their submission to a male prerogative, as in No. 16, "Sirena del mar").

Indeed, Idilio may have received texts that would have been considered sexually transgres­sive by the standards of the day, and may or may not have chosen to pub­lish some of them (unfortunately, a complete run of Idilio from the period is not available for this study). Additional­ly, Idilio may or may not have chosen to forward them to Stern for illustration, and she may or may not have chosen to undertake that illus­tration. The point is that the surviving dossier of illustrations in­clude none that can be called sexually transgressive. What is significant about this point is the fact that one of Freud's great contributions was the spec­ification of the highly charged sexually fantasies and dreams of women--that is, to the eroticization of the female body, an eroticization that displayed alarming deviations from bourgeois decency and het­erosexual parameters and, moreover, iden­tified the potential for women to engage in what was coming to be identified as sexual perversion.

By the early 1950s, Pero­nista Argentina had reaffirmed a com­mitment to regularize sexual hygiene, and this is a period of open persecution of public sexual­ity, especially anything that could be perceived as deviant (Sebreli 313ff.). Hence, it is not surprising to find that Stern's photomontages re­flect women in psychologically distressing situations, but never in any that manifest any sort of compro­mise with female sexual boundaries: no prostitution, no female sexual activism, no polymorphous perver­sity, and, certainly, no lesbianism. Thus, in part in the main one could assert that these images represent the dreams of the real-life women who chose to sub­mit them in a textual form to Idilio. Yet, at the same time, only those dreams attain photomon­tage repre­senta­tion by Stern in so far as they maintain women strictly within the confines of patriarchal heteronormativity, leaving one to spec­ulate on the attendant queer representa­tions that must naturally occur in an uncircumscribed world of female human experience.

What is the nature of the threats to which these women claim to be exposed, as they perceive them in the fantasies of their dream experiences? If one holds in mind that the narra­tive perspec­tive of these photomontages is that of women tell­ing their own story, the compromising situations in which they find themselves are those that are imposed upon them by the world in which they live. Thus, it is not surprising to find that the vast majority of them emphasize women directly or by implication exposed to the power of controlling, threatening, and violent men; in some cases, by a society as a whole with these features. A partial inventory would be:

1) Women's body at the disposal of the hands of men: this is the aforementioned Sueño No. 16, "Sirena del mar" (Sueños 74) where a set of hands of a man emerge from the water as though about to massage the meto­nymic buttocks of a woman on the shore (no other part of the woman is seen but her but­tocks). One of Stern's most amusing photomontrages, Sueño No. 1, "Ar­tículos domésticos para el hogar" (Sueños 61) involves a man's hand hold­ing the base of a lamp: the lamp's pedestal is the body of a languid woman, who holds up the lamp shade with her upraised arms.

2) A demurely posed woman is overwhelmed by the reptilian presence of a debonair (macho) man: if his suave masculinity is con­firmed by the perfect manipulation of the cigarette in his hand, his men­ace is represented by the open maw of a tor­toise head that replaces his human one (image No. 28, "Amor sin ilusión" (Sueños 89).

3) Woman is an artifice of man--Eve as derived from Adam, woman as defined by the male patriarchy--is represented by the figure of a woman emerging from a broad paintbrush manipulated by a male hand: her hair replaces the bristles of the paint­brush: Sueño No. 31, "Made in England" (Sueños 93).

4) There are several images of women enclosed in the manner of the woman in the gilded case: in one image, it is a literal cage; in another it is a corked glass vessel. In the former case, the woman displays the conventional happy face women are supposed to display to the world, while in the lat­ter, an enigmatic glance is partially hidden by a demure fan.

Not only does such confinement emphasize the harem-like res­er­vation of women, but it underscores their ideal feminini­ty. What is interesting is that, from a patri­archal point of view, such reservation protects women from the dangers of the world (including their loss to the master), while from a femi­nist point of view--which may emerge here in an uncon­scious fash­ion--such reservation is a form of entrapment and incar­cera­tion. In another image, a woman is a glass-walled room: she looks in fright as a lion lunges toward one side of the glass pan­eling; in the corner formed by the panels, there is a prom­i­nent pad­lock, but this does not diminish the woman's fright: Sueño No. 12, sin título (Sueños 117).

5) There are several images of women in public spaces that are threatening to them: if a woman does emerge from her sphere of protection, she is exposed to the very threats that the masculinized claims to be protecting her from. In one image, a woman appears to be trapped in the foyer of a vault­ed-ceiling gallery such as the imposing Edificio Barolo, the Edificio Güemes, or the pre-remodeled Galerías del Pacífico: caught between two enormous lines of twine, she recoils from an advancing string of numbers, 1048: Sueño No. 23, "La acusa­da" (Sueños 99). In another image, a woman flees down a street, escap­ing from a group of people staring and pointing at her, as though admonishing her for her shortcomings; there are also miscellaneous pieces of furniture around her, as though she were fleeing from her proper domes­tic realm.

Few of the images depict actual violence against women, but in one, a woman wearing slacks (as opposed to the women in the remaining images, who predominantly wear classi­cally femi­nine skirts), finds herself on a beach in which huge spikes arise from the sand, and one of them has embedded it­self in her foot, as though a punishment for entering a dan­gerous and solitary public space: Sueño No. 39, sin título (Sueños 145).

6) Of particular interest, are the dreams in which mater­nal images are represented as threatening: woman is deranged by what is her most fundamental calling as a human being and social agent. In one image, a woman covers her face in horror (we see her eyes through the open fingers of her palms), as a baby advances toward her down what looks like a dead-end al­ley; the baby's arms are raised in the sort of supplicating gesture that calls for the sup­port of an adult: Sueño No. 24, "Sorpresa" (Sueños 83). In another, a woman contemplates with what we can call loving maternalism a large partially broken egg from which the newborn must have emerged--yet the egg is empty and no newborn is to be seen: Sueño No. 33, sin título (Sueños 135). Finally, in a less threatening but enigmatic image, a woman holds up a challah lily from whose inner folds, along with the phallic stamen, a beautiful blond baby boy emerges. Since the back­ground of the image is a dreary rural Pampa setting, it is as though the child is somehow too beau­tiful to be real: Sueño No. 11, "Niño Flor" (Sueños 115).

Unquestionably, these thematic groups could be tabulated against a registry of the commonplaces of recurring fears, night­mares, terror-filled deliria of woman who live in confor­mance with patriarchal normalcy and who yet sense, in reality or in a paranoid fashion, the destructive forces directed against and from within that normalcy. On the one hand, any constructed normalcy is meant to constitute a bulwark against the destructive forces from with­out (in another image, a woman shrunken in size, hammers with her fists against a closed door, clamoring to get inside the walls of protection: Sueño No. 40, sin título [Sueños 147]), while at the same time that bulwark functions to enclose within itself its own tyrannical threat.

To summarize, I have been characterizing up to this point how Stern's photomontages exemplify complex texts. If in a first in­stance they are based on (presumably) naïve attempts of real-life women to formulate verbally in a conscious state, ex post facto, preverbal dreams they have experienced (and one cannot exclude the possibility of men writing as women, or of women pretending to have dreamed what they relay), Stern's photomontages are a pictorial recreation of those verbal texts underlain by preverbal dreams. Not only are they a third-level semiotization, but they present the question of how one woman reinterprets the interpretation of an array of anonymous women (assuming they are all real-life women; moreover, the texts in Idilio may have been signed, but Stern's images are not iden­tified as to texts by specific authors).

Additionally, Stern's interpretations are conscious works of art, in which she enjoys considerable latitude in producing a text with multiple layers of intentional meaning, which one can assume to be lacking in the unconscious preverbal dreams and in their verbal write-ups for magazine submission. This allows Stern both to directly engage with the topic of the dream as described textually, as well as to introduce strate­gies for a reflexive interpretation of what she is represent­ing. That is, there is a level of irony in her photomontages whereby there is not simply the attempt to pro­vide unmediated re-representations of the written texts, but to introduce a commentary on them.

I would suggest that this commen­tary, while it may con­comi­tantly constitute a critical stance on the workings of psycho­analysis/the analysis of dreams, is funda­men­tally femi­nist. This is so because the photomontages in their majori­ty trans­mit an overall understanding of the re­pressions and op­pres­sion of women in a patriarchally dominated society. It is true that the sense of repression and oppres­sion begins in the original dreams on which the photomontages are based. However, Stern's texts make explicit a criticism of women's lives. In order to understand how this functions, I would like to exam­ine in detail a couple of the several dozen of the photomonta­ges. (4)

"En el andén" is identified as Sueño No. 2 (Sueños 105); when it was pub­lished in the Idilio series, it was titled "Los sueños de los trenes." It is possible to approach these texts in terms of their thematic elements on a level in addition to the char­acterizations I have already provided, which would be with reference to the ca­nonical interpretation by psychoanaly­sis of recurring motifs in dreams--in this case, a subset of women's dreams--especially as to how these symbols have sexual over­tones. More on this in a moment.

However, my principal interest here is in the rhetorical orga­nization of the photomontage and the semiotic processes involved, leaving a precise psychoanalytic interpretation to someone more qualified in this area than I am. In the case of Sueño No. 2, since all of these images are dominated by the figure of women, it is reasonable to begin with the placement of women in them. Although the vast majority of the Sueños involve well dressed women--the sort of dress middle-class women in Argentina might have worn in public places in the 1950s--the woman in "En el andén" is particularly well dressed, to the point of wearing a hat with a trailing veil. It would seem that she is dressed in the particular way in which women of comfortable means would dress for train or air travel in the period, as can be determined by looking back to the advertisements of the early 1950s, especially, in journals like Idilio.

Moreover, also by contrast to the women in the other Sueños, this woman is not terrified or horrified by what she is experienc­ing. While she does have one hand demurely raised, palm outward, as though to ward of an unpleasantness, and her other hand is, while clenched, nevertheless turned back in a genteel fashion, her facial expression is more neutral than anything else: if anything it is inquisitive. What she sees is a train rushing toward her. But in place of the locomotive, there is the same sort of open-jawed tortoise head described above for photo No. 28, "Amor sin ilusión." In the image at hand, the tortoise's head is turned somewhat to the side, as though in an attack position.

If both trains and reptiles (or reptile heads, in the case of tortoises) probably can be read as phallic symbols by standard Freudian dream interpretation, their conjunction here is something like a doubling of that meaning, and in composi­tional terms, it is a direct line from the tortoise's snout to the genital area of the woman. Thus, what the photomontage images in general suggest is sexual aggression towards woman--or, perhaps more generally, the overall threat of physical vio­lence to which many women in society may feel exposed to. Where sexual aggression is specifically sensed is by referenc­ing back to montage No. 28, since the man before whose pres­ence the woman in that image is cringing has the same sort of reptilian head as the train in Sueño No. 2.

Since Stern's goal is to capture dream-like states in her photomontages, she studiously eschews anything that provides for an overly "natural" setting to the circumstances de­scribed. As a con­sequence, the rushing train appears here as emerging out of the waters of a large body of water, and the station platform is actu­ally the edge of the water, more parched earth than sandy beach; the sky beyond the sea is filled with what looks like stormy clouds. It is a moot point as to how many of these details corre­spond to the verbal text of one woman's dream. What is important is the way in which there is, on the one hand, what we can call the realistic detail of the woman's presence (in other images, this presence is not always strictly "realistic" or "natural"), juxta­posed to the fantastic or surreal--even bizarre--conjunction of the train (realis­tic in what of it is depicted) and the reptilian head (realis­tic in what of it is depicted). The unusual and even desolate appearance of the water's edge is an equally disturbing con­junction with the gentling roiling waves of the body of water. A final detail: the sea is often taken--for that matter, be­yond just Freudian interpre­tations--as maternal in nature: the threatening train emerges from this abstractly maternal realm to menace a specific characterized woman. This fact is con­firmed by the way in which her body casts a shad­ow--that is, it intervenes naturally in the landscape--while the train does not: it is the startling other, perhaps even the terrifyingly unknown, that menaces the woman.

While the vast bulk of Stern's photomontages feature women in situations of psychological discomfort and physical aggression, some of them are focused on less immediately men­acing, but no less sex­ist, facts of women's lives. This is the case of Sueño No. 6, which is untitled in the Sueños col­lec­tion, but which was published in Idilio with the title "Un sueño de frutas." In it, we see a minia­ture woman walking over a shelved row of books; she is placing fresh­ly picked straw­ber­ries, complete with leaves and blossoms, on top of one of them. Not all of the books' titles are discernible, but those that are eloquent. They are apparently all by men, and some of their titles signal clearly a masculinist ideology. The book the woman is adorning with the bunches of strawberries is T. E. Law­rence's Los siete pilares de la sabiduría, notable for the homoero­ticization of the noble male art of soldiering. The woman is bend­ing over Lawrence of Arabia's book to add another bunch of straw­berries, and she balances herself with one foot on Lin Yutang's La importancia de vivir and the other on Wal­ter de la Mare's Memorias de una enana.

The fact that the woman is dwarfed by the row of books makes the inclusion of De la Mare's novel especially hilar­ious. Indeed, it is at this point where one can most question the degree to which Stern's photomontages are not merely il­lustrations of the preverbal texts written by naive women, but an ironic com­mentary on the psychoanalytic validity of the staging of dreams: psychoanaly­sis is grimly serious in its determination to seek out the deeply embedded meanings of dreams, which are under­stood them­selves to be deeply embedded narratives of the human psyche, and there is no room for iro­ny, and much less parody, in their manipulation and interpre­tation.

Moreover, it is understood that dreams may appear to be absurd or ludicrous when compared to an allegedly normal wak­ing real­ity. The process of inter­pretation in which the grimly serious analysis of dreams en­gages could never contem­plate the possi­bility that dreams might manifest a play of humorous irony or parody, since such a play would destabilize the se­mantic an­chor dreams must have to be interpretable. Certainly, someone may have dreamed being a woman belittled by books, and one of those books might just happened to have been Memorias de una enana. But unless one is willing to invest in such a high degree of un­likelihood, Stern's image must be viewed as playing with legiti­macy of dreams as conveying a recoverable embedded meaning of a psy­cho­analytically serious nature.

Stern's interpretation of the process of interpreting dreams can only be viewed, in this photo­montage, as rather sardonic with regard to the reputed allegorical literalness of dream sequences. Indeed, the book that is shelved between the two on which the woman stands is Sherwood Anderson's Las nove­las de lo grotesco, surely a mean­ingful choice as regards the texture of the dreams Stern il­lustrates. My point would be here the way in which Stern sees these women as caught in a narrative universe in which they do dream--or think they dream--dreams that are allegori­cal repre­sentations of their diminished (i.e., midget-like) pres­ence in a world dominated by men, one in which they are menaced, perse­cuted, subject to mental and physical violence, and imprisoned in a web of so­cial convention, mystification, and ex­ploita­tion.

Yet, it would be disingenuous to view psychoanalysis, which is one of the master narratives/narratives of the master of the late nine­teenth century, not merely as a system for decodify­ing the tropes of women's oppression, but rather, as one segment of contemporary feminism has quite vociferously maintained, as one of the very tools of the repression and oppression of women. (5) Women who buy into the discourse of psy­choanalysis are buying into a hegemon­ic narra­tive of their problem as hysterical--and, therefore, mar­ginal, inferior, and damaged--human beings (Clara Cordia speaks of "la dependencia de la mujer en el psicoanálisis" [284 ff.]). From this point of view, the narratives of the women who wrote in to Idilio are not beginning the process of their restoration to full mental health via the science of psychoanalysis, but rather are endorsing the very dis­course that subjects them to a marginalizing scrutiny by an impla­cable masculine gaze.

As I have already noted, the title of the Idilio series was called "El psicoanálisis le ayudará": Stern, in her essay on the photomon­tages, does not evoke the title of the series in any ironic way, but it is telling that she notes that the academic who was in charge of the series, Gino Germani (who, it is also significant to note, wrote under a telling pseud­onym: Richard Rest), often in­structed her as to how to handle certain of the details of her images (51)--that is, the male interpreter was insistent on insur­ing that the female inter­preter got things right. (6) Nevertheless, as Priamo has noted, "En ninguna de las exhibiciones de sus fotomontajes Grete utilizó los títulos que Germani les había dado en Idilio (32), which was certainly one way of asserting her creative distance from his specifically psychoanalytic project.

It would be perhaps too much to have hoped Stern would have in­cluded one of Freud's books among those the woman of her photo­mon­tage is stepping over, but yet the presence of the books that are there is telling enough, between the masculini­ty titles on the one hand (John Dos Passos's El gran dinero is another one) and the grotesqueries of Sherwood Anderson and Walter de la Mare on the other: Sueño No. 6, sin título (Sue­ños 111). Moreover, we see the midget woman trapped between two rows of books: she is bending over to place the strawber­ries on the Lawrence book, but if she stood up, she would bump her head on the row of books above her. However, this is not just another row of books. Rather, they are the same books she is treading on: this row of books is cut-off midway by the bottom border of the image, but the remainder of their body and the shelf on which they sit is reproduced as the row above the woman's figure, and it is as though she is not only trapped by books and the sexist narra­tives they contain, but specific books that repeat themselves in a circular, imprisoning way.

Grete Stern's Sueños, thus, point in two directions. On the one hand, they constitute a major Argentine entry in a bibliography of cultural production based on Freudian psycho­analysis, a produc­tion that has had considerable vitality in that country. However, to the extent that Stern was not a psychoanalyst--and her other photography appears not to reveal any specific commitment to that narrative--her work is only indirectly related to the purportedly serious psychoanalytic purpose, even if rather mediated by the popular culture venue of a woman's magazine, of giving voice to wom­en's dreams. It is in the process of converting verbal narra­tives taken seri­ously into creative works of photographic art that a space is created for an occasional ironic and perhaps even femin­ist stance toward the rigorous claims for the legit­imacy of the psychoanalytic project.


(1).Stern herself acknowledges that it was "un mOmento en que los conceptos de ideas psicoanalíticas penetraban en todas las capas de la sociedad, y dicha página [en la revista Idi­lio] fue recibida con agrado por el público lector, mayormente femenino" (51).

(2). In Varo's painting, the wom­an is carry­ing the Freud-like head of the psychoanalyst upside down by some strands of his beard; she is wrapped in a cape that in­cludes a fallen mask, as though now she could show her real face to the world.

(3). Stern's photomontages, in any case, were done well be­fore there was much extensive research on women's erotic needs, such as inaugurated in the United States by Shere Hite, who has been extensively translated into Spanish, mostly in Spain, where, to judge from the number of editions, it was a bestseller in the post-Franco era. Hite's report, however, is not itself free from the restric­tions of the era in which it was assembled, as there is no reference to oral and anal sex, or to B&D and S&M.

(4). I will base myself on the full page photomontages that are identified as belonging to the "Colección de la artista" and the "Colección Jorge Helft," setting aside the reproduc­tions taken from surviving issues of Idilio and reproduced (with much less quality) in groups of four per page. I do this because I am taking the chance of assuming that those images in the photographer's personal possession and in the formal Jorge Helft collection represent the one's Stern was most interested in preserving. Moreover, I would suggest that a comparison between the two groups demonstrates the far greater artistic superiority of those that survived indepen­dently form the pages of Idilio.

(5). The French scholar Sarah Kofman begins her analysis of Freud and women with the statement: "Didn't Freud himself predict it? Feminists would take to the warpath against his text, which, on the subject of women, would be seen as rife with masculine prejudice" (11); see also Slipp; Gallop. It is impor­tant to note that there is a 1982 Spanish translation of Kofman's work. For an overview in Spanish of the relationship between women and psychoanalysis, see Meier.

(6). Germani was mostly known for his work in sociology and served as foudning director of the Instituto de Sociología at the Uni­versidad de Buenos Aires, but her also published a volume of Estudios de psicología, contemporaneous with his work with Stern; he also wrote a preface for the Spanish translation of Erich Fromm's The Fear of Freedom (also pub­lished as Escape from Freedom). See the long interview by Alberto Noé with Juan Carlos Marín on Germani's place in Ar­gentine social sciences. What clearly emerges from this inter­view is Germani's authoritarianism; morevoer, the interview is transparently masculinist in nature.



Bécquer Casaballe, A. "Grete Stern (1904-1999)." Fotomundo No. 382 (1999): 24-27

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