More than a schoolgirl crush: Amy Adler and the adolescent fan

Grant, Catherine. 2019. More than a schoolgirl crush: Amy Adler and the adolescent fan. In: Catherine Grant and Kate Random Love, eds. Fandom as Methodology: A Sourcebook for Artists and Writers. London: Goldsmiths Press, pp. 100-120. ISBN 9781912685134 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

A schoolgirl crush: a mixture of desire, identification and aggression, played out in fantasy. A combination of narcissistic, heterosexual and homosexual desire, the intense identification with the object of desire undoes the paradigms of ‘mature’ heterosexuality. In the work of American artist Amy Adler , this adolescent position is appropriated and reworked in her hybrid photographed drawings. Depicting a range of adolescent and child characters, including the artist as a young woman, Adler’s portraits explore the ways in which identity is filtered through celebrity culture, with her own images becoming part of a seductive, androgynous cast that include a young River Phoenix and a series of unnamed, nubile female stars taken from magazines, billboards and CD covers.

In this work Adler enacts the adolescent fan copying a photograph of his or her idol as perfectly as possible, an act of ownership that inscribes the fan’s desire into the image. However, as Adler re-enacts this process, she maintains a distance, the adult performing the adolescent who attempts to possess or perhaps become the object of desire through the act of drawing. This paper explores the potential of the adolescent position for thinking through modes of desiring and identification that are often dismissed as ‘immature’ or ‘feminine’, undermining the stability of binary definitions of both sexuality and gender. In thinking through the aggression and seduction presented in Adler’s work, the adolescent fan provides a structure for thinking about female desire that allows it to be more than a schoolgirl crush.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


June 2018Submitted
19 November 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

14 Sep 2018 13:18

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2021 14:43


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