Schizoid Spaces of Defiance
My interest in the concept of “otherness” stems from the multiple cultural identities that I am comprised of and of navigating them as a woman. Adapting to different patriarchal systems, some more rigid than others, inspires a personally meaningful exploration of feminism in my work, that fluidly traverses its predominantly Western trajectory in art. My perpetually “alien” status has also generated an impulse to stretch “otherness” to include the viewpoints of entities such as animals and objects, as a way of constructing a realm of connectedness.
‘Schizoid Spaces of Defiance’, the body of work that I will be discussing in this thesis, is an (inconclusive) culmination of experiments conducted over the duration of the MFA course, grappling with the intentionality of hybridity and ambiguity in form and function. It attempts to examine concepts of feminism in a multi-cultural, inter-relational and contemporary setting. I have initiated addressing the complexities of a “Cyborg” entity through blending diverse subjectivities, tropes, media and disciplines.
Shaping psychological spaces where the Gothic as an aesthetic representing “otherness” is explored.
“[The Gothic explores] fractures, borders and hybridities” (Smith and Wallace, 2009)
Stretching notions of ‘otherness’ to include feminism as well as ‘animism’/’vibrant materialism’ (Franke)/Bennett or ‘becoming worldly” with companion species [and objects] (Haraway). Embracing the occult as a subversive act.
Bennett emphasizes the “active powers issuing from non-subjects” in her book ‘Vibarant Matter’ (2010)
I. An interpretation of ‘Postfeminist Gothic’:
1) The Witch –the (mis)representation of women, the (male gaze’s) stereotype of the witch/femme fatale. The occult/irrational/unconscious as a subversive and resilient force of empowerment.
- Munch… painted muted, dark femmes fatales, emphasizing their sinister presence with skull-like features and flowing clothes and hair (paper 1, semester 1)
“[The witch] sets things in motion, stirs the pot, is instigator and matrix of fateful odysseys and transformations.” (Petroff, 1986)
2) The Cat - meaning and metaphor representing the subversive/disobedient/metaphysical/feral/demonic/other
“cats are transgressive, breaking the boundary between nature and culture” (Poulter and Sibley 2000)
3) The Witch’s tools – objects as otherworldly portals/witnesses/physical traces/performers/active components/metonyms
“I present the viewer with a word (…title), a thing or object, and an image or text or chart, a representation. And the three aspects hang together (or not) in some kind of very close relationship which might be metaphoric or metonymic…” (Hiller, 2001)
4) Space – a physical environment, a haven/an asylum, a cage/a punishment, an archive of traces/interactions/relationships/secrets/rituals, a psychological/fictitious/imaginary place, an internal space, privacy/voyeurism, a stage for a performance/a place of autonomy, a [claustrophobic] “space[s] of femininity” (Pollock).
“The idea of entombment within the body, frequently described symbolically by the heroine in the ‘Female’ Gothic being entrapped in womb-like dungeons or other cavernous spaces…” (Paper 1, Semester 3)
"One must go beyond logic in order to experience what is large in what is small." (Bachelard 1994)
“unblinking glimpses into the murkiest waters of the psyche” (Robert Storr, 2001, on Louise Bourgeois’ work)
II. The juxtaposition and layering of sound, image, space and object:
- Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller – “narratives housed in culture, especially genre (such as the gothic)—which can only be finished subliminally, in viewers’ psyches” (Blaze, 2010)
- Maya Deren – “Poetic psychodrama” (Schatz, 1999
- Joan Jonas – “[in her] televisual narratives, Jonas engages viewers in an elusive theatrical portrayal of female identity” (Sackler, 2007).
- Exploration of video/objects as a tool to interpret the ‘Post-feminist Gothic’ genre and a way to erect psychological spaces reflecting the key themes around ‘Schizoid Spaces of Defiance’.
- Discussion of work that treads between the physical and psychological spaces reflecting imposed/self-imposed seclusion.
- Discussion of the direction in which the work needs to be developed further.
Griselda Pollock, ‘Modernity and the spaces of femininity’, Vision and Difference: femininity, feminism and the history of art, London and New York: Routledge, 1988, pp.50-90
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