AffiliationVictorian College of the Arts
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Vanessa Godden
Embodying Entanglement is a practice-based research project investigating how material engagements with the body can examine personal histories of sexual assault and racism. It presents embodied trauma as processual, wherein videos, handmade books, and live performances work with various organic materials cyclically filtered through the body. This project reframes depictions of trauma in art, focusing on metaphorical evocations of the ongoing experiential impact of trauma, rather than the graphic reperformance of traumatic events. Embodying Entanglement attunes to how performative process and material entanglement expand artistic depictions of rape and racism, to decolonise trauma in performative arts practices. In this research, my experiences of the aftermath of rape are considered through the influence of my diasporic identity. The two are entangled as my management of the aftereffects of rape are impacted by my own cultural influences. The project uncovers how the way I have learnt to move through the aftermath of rape and perpetual experiences of racism has been a process of reorienting myself in my body through layers of silence. From table manners gone awry to items evocative of childhood nostalgia—such as flip books and secret diaries—the imagery and methods used throughout this project allude to the deeply personal ways in which my trauma is embodied. My mouth masticates eggshells and pulverises pomegranates and my body drags itself through flour, curry, and chili powder. Hair emerges and accumulates at the back of my throat and my family’s hands repetitively spoon sugar into tea cups until they overflow. Thread punctures the page and replaces words in a book, and imprints of areolas move hypnotically across flipped pages. These cyclical and processual rituals piece together a narrative of my body being put back together after having been fragmented through racism and rape. In this practice-based research—the artwork and the writing and thinking through the practice in this thesis—I find agency in my body and my voice, inviting others to affectively engage with this agency.
KeywordsPerformance art; Video art; Book art; Decolonisation; Trinidadian folklore; The aftermath of rape; Experiences of racism; Material entanglements; Labouring body; Trauma; The poetics of traumatic experience; Affect; Materialising voice; Endurance performance art; Representations of rape; Intersectionality
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