• Uncompromising female aesthetic subjectivity

Leung, Kwan Kiu, 2018, Thesis, Uncompromising female aesthetic subjectivity PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This thesis is a comparison between the work of Tracey Karima Emin and He Chengyao in global contemporary art of East and West. My original contribution to knowledge is, firstly, this comparative research of Emin and Chengyao, secondly, to demonstrate how and why their work constitutes an ontological identification relationship between subjectivity and art practice that exhibits three aspects of Emin and Chengyao’s subjectivity: performativity, visibility, and univocity, and thirdly, to claim and to offer an exposition of how and why their naked self-portraiture is a new nude. I argue that an ‘ontological identification relationship’ occurs when their subjectivity merges with art practice, where an intimate relationship between artist and work is established in which the being of the artist is deeply imbued with the being of the artwork: there is an ontological relationship between them when they identify themselves with art practice and work.

After explicating the thesis in the introduction, the ontological identification relationship between artist and work is addressed in chapter one, which unfolds the reasons why their ontology of being embodies the three aspects of Emin and Chengyao’s subjectivity. Chapter two is devoted to the first aspect of subjectivity, performativity, which will draw from Butler’s idea of performativity. Juxtaposing their artwork will exhibit how their naked self-portraits draw our attention to their female subjectivity, the lack of female subjectivity in global art practice, and to question a patriarchal society in the twentieth-twenty first century. Emin and Chengyao’s work not only refracts as a new kind of nude to resist the male dominated aesthetic realm but to attempt to address a female lack in the artistic realm. The third chapter explicates the second aspect of subjectivity: visibility, analysing particular works of Emin and Chengyao that exhibit how visibility discloses invisibility. Their subjectivity in artwork exhibits a personal history in the public sphere, which invites interpretation not only from a local audience but also a global one. The invisible to the visible is a journey of becoming through an actualisation of subjectivity within art practice. Actualising subjectivity as female artists is reflecting on the self ontologically; it is a way of being with one’s body and art as one, and a way of making sense of things. Chapter four addresses the third aspect of subjectivity, ‘Univocity of Faceless Bodies,’ which parallels Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of bodies without organs (BWO) for univocity, and explicates why ‘faceless bodies’ is a crucial feminist depiction of the female body. They draw our attention to a lack of subjectivity in univocity, but a univocity that is not universality.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2018 14:29
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2023 08:38
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/3707
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