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Becoming beauty : the implications of the writings of Luce Irigaray for feminist art practices

By Hilary Robinson

Abstract

This thesis aims to identify aspects of Luce Irigaray's work which are of significance for feminist discourses of art, including art practices and critical analyses of art works by women. Her writings have been analyzed and employed in academic fields, such as Literature, Philosophy, and Theology, but rarely to date from\ud within art history, criticism or theory. This thesis establishes the wide-ranging implications of her work for these disciplines.\ud \ud The thesis is in two parts. Part 1 outlines Luce Irigaray's analyses of phallocentrism's representational structures, and her arguments for developing representational structures appropriate for women. It aims to outline Luce Irigaray's philosophy of sexual difference in so far as it impacts upon the production of meaning in the realm of\ud the visual, and visual aesthetics. The first two chapters focus upon mimetic practices, including mimesis, masquerade and hysteria. They identify the maintenance mimesis in phallocentrism, and the productive mimesis which develops structures of resistance. Chapters 3 and 4 attend to Luce Irigaray's analyses of the visual, including phallocentric structures of sight and visible representation. The possibility of a syntax in the Symbolic appropriate to women is explored. Building upon this, Part 2 engages moments of contemporary art practice by women with further aspects of Luce Irigaray's thinking. Her concept of morphology is explored in relation to work by Laura\ud Godfrey-Isaacs, Jenny Saville, Bridget Reilly and Rachel Whiteread, in order to establish possible mediative function of art works. Luce Irigaray's understandings of gesture are read in conjunction with work by Louise Bourgeois. Finally, Luce Irigaray's arguments about\ud women's genealogies, and concepts of the divine, the universal, and the transcendental appropriate to women, are tested against the representation, `woman', in Irish visual culture, and moments of resistance in works by Irish artists\ud Rita Duffy, Louise Walsh, Pauline Cummins, and Fran Hegarty.\ud \ud The thesis concludes that, through careful attention to the\ud structures and use of terminology developed by her, it is possible to identify areas where Luce Irigaray's work can be productively juxtaposed with and interrogated by current feminist theories of art in order to develop those practices, increase the legibility of art works by women, and provide spaces of discourse in which artists can work in the future

Publisher: Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Year: 1998
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:391

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Citations

  1. (1995). S e an rud e, cultar, nä an meid a dheanann se (Culture is What Culture Does)', in Distant Relations/Cercanias Distantes/Clann I gCein: Chicano, Irish, Mexican Art and Critical Writing,
  2. (1995). Volume One 1500-1800 (London: HarperCollins,
  3. (1991). Women's Exile: Interview with Luce Irigaray', interview by Dianna Adlam & Couze Venn, trans. by Couze Venn, Ideology and Consciousness,

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