Privileging corporeal identity : an embodied approach to artmaking practice

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dc.contributor.advisor Leora Farber; Dr. Wilhelm van Rensburg en_US Rennie, Christy 2012-03-08T07:18:54Z 2012-03-08T07:18:54Z 2012-03-08 2010
dc.description M.Tech. en_US
dc.description.abstract In this research I offer a reading of selected work by South African artists, Joni Brenner, Berni Searle and Minnette Vári in relation to Julia Kristeva‟s conception of the abject. In examining these artists‟ use of the formal elements of tactility in representation of their corporeality, I draw analogies between their work and two Kristevian theories of heterogeneity, namely the abject and the semiotic (see Pollock 1998: 9). The primary aim of this research is to examine how the use of tactility in visual art may disrupt notions of sameness with specific reference to the assertion of a non-gendered form of embodied representation. While I am indebted to feminist investigations of corporeality and identity, and use these as a theoretical framework, I attempt to reach beyond their politically gendered paradigm. In support of this, my research draws on certain arguments put forward by Kristeva as these are situated in, and advocate, a non-gendered form of embodiment. The element of homogeneity or pervasive naturalisation is aligned with the element of „sameness‟, characteristic of the symbolic element within signification (Lechte & Margaroni 2004: 108). Consequently, following Kristevian theory, I examine ways within visual art in which the semiotic element works in a constant, antagonistic dialectic with the symbolic element. Within this context, I argue these artists suggest the borders of selfhood to be fluid in nature. Within Kristeva‟s model of selfhood, the subject in process, the abject threat of dissolution of self may be contextualised. Therefore, the threat towards one‟s identity is not so much nullified, but is rather no longer separated from the understanding of self. Following Kristeva‟s (1991: 1) thought, one may argue that the foreign „other‟ and the self are intimately related. For the purposes of this research, the pertinent facet of the abject evident in these artists‟ work is an ambiguous, dynamic, open-endedness. I align the arguably consequential abject, partial dissolution of the binary logic of self and other suggested in these artists‟ work, through the use of the formal elements of tactility, with Kristeva‟s conceptualisation of intimate revolt. This intimate revolt advocates ii a continual, questioning revision which may lead to the renewal of the interlinked notions of language and identity. Using a Post-Structuralist approach to research I engaged in textual analysis in order to explore critical positions regarding embodiment, tactility and the abject in representation. In addition, in order to generate empirical research pertaining to her artmaking practice, primary research in the form of semi-structured interviews was conducted with Brenner. In this research, having drawn on Kristeva‟s heterogeneous tools of the semiotic-driven abject, the signifiance and poetic language of the speaking subject and practice of intimate revolt I offer a non-gendered reading of tactility as a transgressive means in the disruption of sameness. Through offering non-gendered readings of the chosen artists‟ work, I have attempted to emphasise the necessity of the abject within the continual formation and renewal of the non-gendered speaking subject within processes of signification and thus of identification. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Abject art en_US
dc.subject Human figure in art en_US
dc.subject Self en_US
dc.title Privileging corporeal identity : an embodied approach to artmaking practice en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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