Date of Award

1-1-2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

Faculty

Faculty of Communications and Creative Industries

First Advisor

Dr Susan Ash

Second Advisor

Dr Christopher Crouch

Abstract

These chapters consider how art can provide a space for wider critical debate on established patriarchal power relations, which have operated in Western culture since the Enlightenment period. As a female artist, I want to explore the space in art of both the female body and the community body. This work seeks to position the female body within the "form" of her subjectivity, to destabilize patriarchal strongholds through the displacement of the traditionally aestheticised female "nude”. That is, I examine the (historicized) notion of a “subject” and the representation of an "object”, and understand the female "nude” as a representation of patriarchal dominance to this day. I use my art work: of women to explore recent feminist theory that investigates these historicized notions, hoping to present images that critique rather than wholly participate in the tradition of objectifying women without question. Ultimately, I move to a broader field, to incorporate an idea of a community "body" that is embracing of those bodies culturally precluded from subjective empowerment. My attention is specifically focused on the remediation of the once "derelict" land and "polluted" waterways of East Perth, to the "pristine" condition of what is now an exclusive corporate and residential site. I intend to address my art to the many "marginalized" bodies, traditionally and presently obstructed from subjective representation within our Western culture. In bringing both "bodies" together, my art aims to help disrupt the patriarch from his central subjective stronghold. Chapter 1 explores the (assumed) privileged "gaze" of the Western male artist (and my own naive participation in this practice). which transforms the "deformed" physical "matter” of women into the "iconic", conceptual "form" of the patriarch's "Woman". Chapter 2 examines the space for a female voice that recent psychoanalytic theory evokes in challenging the conventions of patriarchy. At this point in particular, my praxis seeks to reflect this emergence for women, as reconnections to the "matter" of the maternal body are made. Chapter 3 investigates how feminist theory resists the patriarchal icon for female "beauty" (in the classical "nude"), through its representation of new bodily images and identities for women. Subsequently, I journey in my visual practice in responding to this "resistance", and focus specifically on the feminist notion of "ambiguity" for female self-expression, as a means to subversively obstructing patriarchal hegemony. Chapter 4 articulates the significance of "desire" for women in their discovery of themselves at an intimate level, without the intervention of masculine visual penetration. I represent this intimacy (this "divinity" for women), through tactile qualities in my practice, which serve to connect women to themselves, whilst interrupting the penetration of the patriarchal gaze. Finally, Chapter 5 shows how the resistance and corporeality of the female body comes to symbolize the existence of the “community body" that works to reclaim a "presence" (a place of domicile) within the redeveloped site of East Perth.

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