Collective difference: re-presentation as feminist practice

2017-01-16T04:20:30Z (GMT) by Roe, Alex Martinis
This PhD research explores the question: what can be a founding premise now for art practice as feminist action? Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity problematises the identity politics of who can constitute the feminist subject. However, Luce Irigaray’s textual practice will inform an argument for the importance of not only a feminist, but also a feminine genealogy. Butler’s gender performativity and Irigaray’s mimesis have informed the PhD research in its attempt to simultaneously deconstruct the feminine and to affirm the potential to contribute to a feminist genealogy. In the first stage of the research, 1:1 scale self-portrait video installations performatively altered the viewer’s mode of consumption of representational images of the artist. An analysis of the contextual contingency of the artist’s authorship informed strategies which attempted to shift normative modes of spectatorship. The second major body of work involved a series of re-enactment and citational works that explore the development of a specifically feminist genealogy; mimetic language as feminine and the contemporary relationship between documentation and live works. The final stage of the research relocated the object of the work to the event of the art encounter. This relocation involved an emphasis on the co-dependency of meaning and the performative effect of an artist’s reception and their interlocutors. This co-dependency allows for the development of a feminine genealogy, which does not rely on representations of women, but on the latent subtext of representational conventions. That is, what Irigaray calls specular figurations of the feminine: the trace of that which legitimates language via its exclusion from signification.