School of Culture and Communication - Theses

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    Looking back: contemporary feminist art in Australia and New Zealand
    Maher, Harriet ( 2016)
    This thesis sets out to examine the ways in which feminism manifests itself in contemporary art, focusing in particular on Australia and New Zealand. Interviews were conducted with practicing contemporary artists Kelly Doley, FANTASING (Bek Coogan, Claire Harris, Sarah-Jane Parton, Gemma Syme), Deborah Kelly, Jill Orr and Hannah Raisin. During these interviews, a number of key themes emerged which form the integral structure of the thesis. A combination of information drawn from interviews, close reading of art works, and key theoretical texts is used to position contemporary feminist art in relation to its recent history. I will argue that the continuation of feminist practices and devices in contemporary practice points to a circular pattern of repetition in feminist art, which resists a linear teleology of art historical progress. The relationship between feminism and contemporary art lies in the way that current practices revisit crucial issues which continue to cycle through the lived experience of femininity, such as the relationship to the body, to labour and capital, to the environment, and to structures of power. By acknowledging that these issues are not tied to a specific historical period, I argue that feminist art does not constitute a short moment of prolific production in the last few decades of the twentieth century, but is a sustained movement which continually adapts and shifts in order to remain abreast of contemporary issues.