The texture of her skin: a studio project excavating and reweaving visions of female subjectivity
thesisposted on 01.03.2017, 00:05 by Just, Kathleen
The Texture of Her Skin: A Studio Project Excavating and Reweaving Visions of Female Subjectivity is developed in counterpoint to dominant visual representations that centre on women’s object-hood and suppression in skin. Through a series of visual art works, I evaluate the evocative and connective character of skin, and advance its potential to visualise subjective and multi-layered approaches to female embodiment. Moving beyond the prevalence of literal or singular images of women’s skin, my project investigates the potential for sculptural ‘relics’ to unearth skin’s role as a tactile catalyst in accruing our sense of identity and belonging. I also explore whether media bearing a conceptual affinity to skin, including knitting, clay and photography, might recast skin as a texture enfolding greater female subjectivity and agency. This archive of ‘artefacts’ was developed in New York, Barcelona, Madrid, Vienna, Krems and Melbourne, reflecting a sustained engagement with a diversity of cultural and visual histories. Comprising a series of surgical tools, archaeological relics, knitted second skins and armours, my works creatively reconfigure surface accounts of the female body, reimagine history from a subjective position, and manifest skin’s capacity to sustain our most intimate connections. Studio processes including cutting, kneading, sewing, knitting, carving, tracing and reassembling are deployed to further augment and reweave skin as an active, porous network enfolding a sense of self and connection to the world. I enrich the texture of my own works by mapping out a genealogy of connection to the work of female artists and theorists. Constructing a textual tapestry of our intersecting perspectives, I document the multifarious approaches to the collective task of reclaiming women’s own bodily representation and experience. My own work, centred within this larger body of theory and art practice, exudes optimism that through the tactile threshold of skin, boundaries can be broken, wounds can be healed, and new visions and stories can forged.
Awards: Winner of the Mollie Holman Doctoral Medal for Excellence, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, 2013.