International Research Network on

Ageing, Gender, and Visual Culture

CinemAGEnder is an international, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research network, composed of academics and professionals, with the objective to study age and gender in visual culture (with emphasis in cinema) mainly within, but not limited to, the Spanish context. Established with the purpose of studying the representation of age, CinemAGEnder aims to deconstruct stereotypes related to ageing, gender and sexuality in visual culture.

 

Despite its still relative invisibility in visual arts, there are 700 million people in the world over 60 years old, and, according to the World Health Organization, an expectation for that number to increase to 20% (30% in the Spanish case) of the world’s population by 2050.

 

Our objectives are:

  • To study the representations of women and men over 50-year-old in visual culture

  • To raise social awareness on the complexity and the multifaceted issue of ageing

  • To denounce ageism and shed light on the stigmas surrounding age.

  • To present models more adjusted to the reality that we study and live in

  • To make society aware that it is essential to use a different, non-discriminatory discourse about ageing.

 

Old age is often neglected by culture. When represented, it is usually portrayed by using connotations and common places that imply fear; ageing is associated with disease, decay, fragility, dependence, and the disappearance of social life and sexuality. Therefore it becomes something to be avoided by rejuvenating our physical appearance: surgically, through drugs, or, what has been termed, "healthy or successful aging."

 

CinemAGEnder emerges at a time of great interest towards issues regarding positive and affirmative ageing from the World Health Organization and various Gerontological Associations. This interest on ageing has materialized in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches that consider the key role that gender, sexuality, society, economy, race, ethnicity, amongst others, play in ageing and its subsequent visual representation.

 

The lines of research are open to the visual representation of ageing in the following areas:

                * Women's cinema, playwriting, photography, etc.

                * LGBIT groups

                * New masculinities

                * Intersectional feminism

                * Sexuality

                * As a disability

                * As an illness

 

The interdisciplinary nature of CinemAGEnder extends beyond the academic area with the determination to create a network of collaboration with social agents, associations or nongovernmental entities, social groups and the public. In this way, in the network participate, amongst others, the Association of Actresses DE 50 PARA ARRIBA, CIMA, the ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES OF SPAIN, LESGAICINEMAD, etc.

The network also emphasizes the need for the fields of artistic creation, academic research in visual culture and gerontology / geriatrics to work together to achieve the objective of raising awareness about the terrible discrimination suffered by older people.

 

Among the activities that this international group will carry out are film festivals, workshops, street performances, creative activities with the elderly, and activities of intergenerational awareness in matters of gender and ageing.

 

The presentation of cisgender women or the LGBT community in mainstream audiovisual culture is almost accidental; it is a necessary but small counterpoint to the plot. Even though ageing is not normally the focus of blockbuster films, when old characters are part of them, cinema shows a clear preference towards older male characters in active roles.  Additionally, when ageing women are part of the films, their deficits (in terms of health, sexuality, intellectual capacity and as social subject/agent) are highlighted, exacerbated and stereotyped.

 

The same applies to other visual texts, including theatre, dance, photography, etc. Therefore, the depiction of ageing and well-being in Spanish visual texts demands to be analyzed from the intersections of the cultural, social, political, economic and medical dimensions of gender and ageing.