Year

1995

Degree Name

Doctor of Creative Arts

Department

Faculty of Creative Arts

Abstract

Contemporary gender studies reveal the evolution of a plurality of masculinities since World War Two. The associated social change surrounding masculinity has demanded a re-evaluation of gender roles by Western men who, historically, have not been encouraged to be introspective about their emotional development. However, when compelled by circumstances to examine some of the forces which have moulded their lives and which keep them in bondage they become aware that the traditional values surrounding patriarchal politics, women, war, religion and death are no longer adequate. A major factor in this inadequacy is that traditional role models have been superseded by those projected by Hollywood and the mass media.

The evolution of new role models has led to confusion and uncertainty about the definition of masculinity and what it is to be a man. To make sense of their personal identity and the construction of their masculinity some men embark on a process of personal archaeology. This is the theme of the research for The Archaeology of Masculinity which examines the heroic role played by fathers and other men in boys' lives. The creative work and the explication of it in the documentation deal with the broad issue of the construction of masculinity by addressing the specific relationships between incest and sexual abuse, dysfunctional father-son relations, and the construct of sexual preference within a particular historical and cultural context. It also reveals some of the unrealistic standards of unattainable masculine ideals promoted in popular Western culture. The thesis is both autobiographical and generalised and has been articulated in four exhibitions.

Central to the work is an analysis of the therapeutic content of the creative process. To some degree all art draws on the subconscious for inspiration. However, autobiographical art specifically objectifies emotions and sub-conscious feelings and is often self-revealing to the artist after the work is completed. Such unveiling of repressed knowledge can be cathartic, and this dissertation provides a case history where a fuller understanding of the effects of early childhood trauma was reached through a process of creative therapy.

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