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Fractured identity and the monstrous orchid
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posted on 21.02.2017by Savoia, Marc Laurence
As an artist who operates in the realm of the subjective, I use techniques of image appropriation as an external means to negotiate my internal world. In the treatment of sourced images, specifically through fracturing, disrupting and subverting, I re-enact a formal fracture of identity. A key narrative within the exploration of this subjective identification is the inherent push-and-pull of my relationship with my mother. A tension of opposites reverberates throughout the practical research: object and subject, self and other, male and female, straight and gay, surface and meaning; in a capacity that can be subversive, anxious, delicate and harmonious. The psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan and Melanie Klein provides a useful model in which to demystify these tensions and provide a lateral basis for my approach to the aesthetic. I will probe further the issue of the mother in the context of feminist theory by Joan Copjec, and compare my approach to this theme with other artists.
The monstrous orchid, a botanic hybrid of the late Victorian era, offers the perfect metaphor through which to explore some of the issues that connect my subjectivity to the practical research. I examine the significance of Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley for their championing of the decorative as a means to communicate the subversive. The research explores examples in Victorian and contemporary art that approach the subversive through autobiography and artifice, referencing my own past when self was
surface. I highlight in the theoretical research the important role of the mask in connecting the internal with the external. Three important concepts help qualify this connection: Julia Kristeva's notion of the abject, Judith Butler's views on gender and performativity and
Laura Mulvey's articulation of the gaze.
I will investigate the technical dimension to my approach through multiple frameworks. This includes a semiotic discussion on symbolism in Picasso and the potential for image to act as language and narrative in a way that can function independent of the subjective. In addition to the exploration of the principle is detournement, a 1950s strategy I will situate my work against. Recognising that I work within a space of queer aesthetics, I also define my position through an examination of theories of camp in the written exegesis. I compare the ideas of Susan Sontag with more updated definitions of camp, uncovering the secret subversive language of polari and highlight the symbolic and technical potential of the closet in the context of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's gender theory.