Placing the body: towards a subjectivity of the feminine in sculpture
AffiliationFaculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and Music
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
CitationsPhillips, C. (2011). Placing the body: towards a subjectivity of the feminine in sculpture. Masters Research thesis, Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and Music, The University of Melbourne.
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© 2011 Caroline Phillips
As a result of Sexual Difference theory a new way to consider feminine subjectivity has been developed that encompasses both the materiality of the body and its lived experience. This has proved highly relevant to both feminist theory and contemporary visual art. This project produces sculptural works that materialise this thinking and explore new possibilities for representing embodied space. The sculptural works deploy three strategies to imbue current visual practice with physical subjectivity: Minimalism, craft based practices and spatial metaphor. Considering the work of Eva Hesse as foundational in its capacity to evoke subjectivity within abstracted and material means, this research employs similar mechanisms of repetition, haptic surfaces and industrial materials. However, my research extends these strategies into architectural and bodily space, using the metaphors of the cave, the passage and the threshold. The accompanying written paper explores philosophical and psychoanalytical texts, along with art and feminist theory, to contextualize the materials and processes used in the studio research and exhibition of final works. Drawing primarily on the work of Luce Irigaray, whose writing offers a number of visual and poetic metaphors that have largely not been addressed in visual art, I consider the ways that phallocentric, binary thinking has previously shaped (and limited) the representation of the body in recent visual art. In addition, particular aspects of psychoanalytic discourse that address the pre-linguistic phase of development are reinterpreted to allow for a more open subjectivity, which is then explored through my materially charged practice. This discussion argues the importance of minimalism, materiality and spatial metaphor to conceptions of the feminine, in short the reattribution of the body itself, into contemporary art discourse.
Keywordsbody; subjectivity; feminine; sculpture; Irigaray; minimalism
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