Title

On fate and fatalism : photography and fatal theories

Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Communications and Arts

Faculty

Education and Arts

First Advisor

Prof. Lelia Green

Second Advisor

Dr. George Karpathakis

Third Advisor

Tania Visosevic

Abstract

This PhD thesis, On Fate and Fatalism: Photography and Fatal Theories, is a twopart practice-led enquiry comprising a book of photographs and an exegesis. This exegesis, entitled Photography and Fatal Theories, is my written interpretation and response to two bodies of artwork presented in my book, On Fate and Fatalism, in which I examine the notion of fate and fatalism through a photographic practice. This project proceeds by posing the question: how can notions of fate and fatalism be explored, articulated and interpreted in a photographic practice? In my series, Femme Fatalist: Woman With Taxidermy, which comprises Part One of my book On Fate and Fatalism, I examine the notion of fate with pertinence to postfeminism and argue that the discourse of postfeminism is enclosed in a discourse of how women relate to popular culture and consumption. My femme fatalist is a parody of the postmodern femme fatale trope, and through conceptualizing popular postfeminism as a form of fatalism, I present a critique of conspicuous consumption as being an insufficient form of postfeminist empowerment. I suggest that the notion of the abject offers a perspective on the importance of the fatal to subjectivity in postmodernity, and my interest in the fatal follows through to my series, Body Bags: “I am a Trash Bag”, which comprises Part Two of my book of photographs. In this second series, in which I conceptualize the plastic bag as the quintessential icon of postmodern consumption, I move toward a consideration of waste as a means to explore the notions of fate and fatalism. Through this investigation I find that to be a fatalist, and to believe in fate, has lost much of its meaning in postmodernity, and I suggest that practice-led research offers opportunities for a meaningful reconsideration of fate and fatalism’s relevance to discussions of postmodern subjectivity and discourses of consumption.

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