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Divine matter: transforming subjectivity through art practices and Irigaray's sensible transcendental
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posted on 27.02.2017by Thomson, Alison
The French philosopher Luce Irigaray proposes the sensible transcendental as a model of subjectivity that enunciates an alternate reality based on sexual difference. This concept unsettles conventional understandings of the sensible and the transcendental, suggesting a
different relationship between the material and the divine. Irigaray coined the sensible
transcendental through her studies and work as a psychoanalyst, her critiques of philosophy and Western theology, and her own experience of Eastern spiritual practices. This studio based research project, explores the sensible transcendental and conceives a series of artworks in relation to this exploration. In keeping with Irigaray's philosophy, the concept is deployed with a focus on Jacques Lacan's notion of subjectivity, Jacques Derrida's challenge
to the metaphysics of presence and Martin Heidegger's writings on art. A three part
understanding of the sensible transcendental, developed through art practices such as making, reading and writing, along with my own experience of spiritual practices, frames the
following exegesis. This three part understanding configures the sensible transcendental as a speaking of Being, feminine transcendence, and elemental intervals. This investigation of the
sensible transcendental, in terms of art practice, provided a critical and propositional framework for rethinking my own sense of separation from the feminine and the natural environment and the alignment of these two terms in Western culture. The artworks created as part of this research speak to these concerns and offer new symbolic reference points for a
different (female) subjectivity.