Monash University

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Finding a voice: an exploration of the impact of language acquisition on identity using self-portraiture performance video

posted on 2017-02-27, 22:13 authored by Ross, Nina
Finding a voice investigates the impact of language acquisition on identity. This project draws on personal experiences of living in Norway and learning Norwegian for my husband to explore themes of struggle, loss and transformation on the body. Particular focus on the connection between the psychological and physiological implications throughout the learning process is emphasised. This thesis consists of five specific bodies of self-portrait photographic and video works; Strangers to ourselves (2010), The foreignness of language (2011), Untitled (fish) (2011), Finding a voice (2012) and The language between us (2012). To inform the studio projects, I reflected on my own memories of the second language acquisition process. I used self-portrait performance video to re-enact these experiences together with bodily gestures to represent the repercussions on my sense of self. In the works, I explore processes of language acquisition and its impact on identity. This exegesis accompanies the artworks and aims to contextualise the themes explored. The chapters "The process of acquiring the sounds of speech" and "The mouth" present aspects of psychoanalysis and language discourse to examine the evolution of attaining a language on the self. My methodologies are considered together with artists working in my field in the studio research discussion, which seeks to provide an important framework for my art practice. 

Awards: Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for Masters Thesis Excellence in 2013.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Peta Clancy

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture