Monash University
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Fantasy fulfilment and pressing politics: ethical communication as performance.

posted on 2016-12-07, 05:41 authored by Trotter, Penelope Jane
This exegesis has developed from my visual research that comes in the hybrid form of public feminist performance art, installations, photography and printmaking. It details the enactment of three feminine fantasies that stem from repressed political and ideological desires. Theoretical models that relate to activist and Surrealist performance art are the focus of the first section of the exegesis. I explore theorists such as Stephen Duncombe, Elizabeth Grosz, Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir, and Laura Mulvey to understand the levels of self-scrutinisation and shame experienced when considering performing acts that involve returning the gaze onto the “Other,” and to determine which set of precepts should be chosen in order to construct an ethical spectacle. In keeping with Surrealist methodology, Lacanian and Freudian psychoanalysis becomes a key component of my work. I tie Lacan and Freud through an exploration of Surrealist creative techniques and notions such as Andre Breton’s “Mad Love,” Salvador Dali’s “paranoiac critical method,” “convulsive beauty,” and particularly Claude Cahun’s method of “indirect political meaning,” simulation tactics, and use of “alter egos” to challenge binaries between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ I describe such techniques to show how I delineate the emotions surrounding the several stages of fantasy fulfilment whilst ethically resisting and defying repressive cultural ideologies in the creation of my work. As the central component of my research, I then explain how such Surrealist techniques are consciously used to provide the audience with an indirect level of political meaning so that I can maintain my role as an invisible provocateur without experiencing any negative repercussions. Artists and films that exemplify such creative models including Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, Sophie Calle, Roberto Matta, Cindy Sherman, Amelie from Montmarte, Possessed and The Purple Rose of Cairo are referenced. Through a discussion the ideas of Luce Irigaray and Michel Foucault I then show how I have adapted cultural stereotypes formed by discourses such as psychoanalysis and film to the performance of each fantasy. I do this in order to see how much such notions of the feminine contribute to the repression of feminine desires. The idea of erasing gendered binaries through Surrealist methodology is discussed largely to detail how this has helped me to achieve the fantasies that I wanted to fulfil.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Melissa Miles

Additional supervisor 1

Luke Morgan

Additional supervisor 2

Domenico DeClario

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art & Design


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

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