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UAL Research Online

Undoings: A Feminist Art Practice Investigating Female Sexed Corporeality and Othered Phenomenological Bodies

Spindler, Stephanie (2020) Undoings: A Feminist Art Practice Investigating Female Sexed Corporeality and Othered Phenomenological Bodies. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Spindler, Stephanie

This fine art practice-led research investigates how the female sexed body might elicit sexual difference as an integral subjective perspective through modes of representation, modalities of experience and materiality. This research project seeks to explore, through a visual arts practice, how a woman’s embodied consciousness can be in conflict with dominant ideologies of femininity, particularly in the context of a patriarchal society in which male embodiment is privileged over that of women. It explores how working through the processes of making in my sculptural installation practice provides the possibility for a radical new phenomenological body to emerge.

Utilising the framework of a female subject position, i.e. a corporeal framework in which a physical body acts and experiences within a specific sociocultural context, I develop a unified and cohesive model of mind and body in order to conceive of female sexed subjects as having specific relationalities and different strategies or alternative desires to that of the universal, neutral, male body. In the course of my research, I determine the sensory qualities, expressive characteristics and affective dynamics present in the processes and materials of my arts practice, that serve to provoke specificities of female sexed subjects.

A combination of feminist phenomenology, new materialism and a practice of vulnerability provide a methodology whose objective is the subversion of the patriarchal mode of embodiment. A new wave of feminist phenomenology suggests we experience embodiment as already gendered (McWeeny 2011). This becomes productive of a selfawareness in relation to the social and cultural contexts in which I live as a female sexed body and a woman, and it is through the mode of making that I question sexually specific materiality, experience and representation. Vulnerability, as a practice, involves the occupation of a position that instrumentalises ambiguity, instability, and uncertainty - and through doing so provides a way of exploring the boundaries of the body and self as being in a perpetual state of becoming. Vulnerability is the antithesis of a patriarchal position of power and control, a hierarchical system that constrains people’s lived experiences. (Brown 2012).

My work seeks to build on that of feminist practitioners who have re-imagined the sexed body as a dynamic, fluid and relational concept. I argue that it is the sociocultural situation of women in sexist, contemporary society, rather than consequences of a particular anatomy, that is critical to the ways in which female lived embodiment is engendered. My research aims to re-conceive the spatial and temporal dynamics of the relation between the visible and the tangible and, through my use of materiality, potentially shift paradigmatic ideas of what a body is. I propose that a phenomenological female body is generated at an intersection where material performs a transition between states of being and, in so doing, accelerates and generates instability and further possibilities of becoming. I claim the specificity of the ontological relation of becoming, in which a maternal genealogy is crucial, as a female phenomenological identity. Through my practice, I assert that this identity is an existential site, one which reverberates both a responsibility (Lorde 2007) and a responseability (Barad 2012).

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Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Chelsea College of Arts
Date: January 2020
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2021 14:54
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2023 09:24
Item ID: 16440
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/16440

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