Between Fear and Fascination: The Horrific in Women’s Contemporary Video Installation

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

The female body has historically been determined as the site of the
frighteningly monstrous Other in phallocentric thought, and in terms of art
practice the traditional female nude was represented as either pure or
debased – yet through various modes of expanding and imploding the tropes
of traditional horror films, some contemporary women artists have begun to
investigate the fragmentation of the female body to evoke a new process of
deciphering the dichotomous emotions of fear, disgust and desire.
In a dialogical relationship between practice-based and written
research, this thesis explores contemporary video installation case-studies in
relation to early feminist art practices, lesbian representation, and
psychoanalytical studies. The issues surrounding the classic cinematic
representation of femininity cannot be avoided due to the cinematic
conventions that have been assimilated into all moving image practice – thus
to investigate the challenge of representing femininity, the concept of horror is
examined through numerous sources, including film and literary theory,
feminism, queer theory, and video art. While the discourse on horror films has
been important, especially in relation to feminist theory, its recent connection
to video installation has not been fully explored. I question whether video
installation engenders a more direct and visceral response to horror due to its
spatial and temporal interrelation, and posit that video installations can utilise
visualisations of the horrific in an attempt to redefine the rigidity of binaries that
are constructed in phallocentric culture.
Through the thesis I propose that my practice, in relation to the work of the other artists examined, explores the liminal state of the body and employs a transgressive mode of spatio-temporality through video and video installation to engender new compelling ways of pushing the boundaries surrounding the fears and fascinations of sexual difference.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Ulster University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Rowley, Alison, Supervisor, External person
  • Campbell, David, Supervisor, External person
  • Chan, Suzanna , Supervisor, External person
  • MacLennan, Alastair , Supervisor, External person
Award date31 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • feminism
  • horror
  • fine art
  • video installation
  • other
  • Kristeva
  • Bracha-Ettinger
  • Freud
  • Queer theory
  • lesbian representation

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