Master of Creative Arts (Research)
Faculty of Creative Arts
Bessell, Sue, The 'Liminal Self ': Evoking a critical dialogue around self-representation in contemporary arts practice, Master of Creative Arts (Research) thesis, Faculty of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong, 2014. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4391
This exegesis explores concepts and techniques for extending the photographic self-portraiture into self-representation in relation to the concept of liminality. The research question – How can critical dialogues around self-representation be evoked through contemporary arts practice? – is explored through the concept of the liminal self. I argue that the creation of this liminal self opens up a space of contestation that disrupts assumed paradigms of self-portraiture, the photographic image, and image-reproductive technology.
The exegesis identifies the importance of the interconnections between the photograph and objects, the photograph and digital media, and the photograph and hand-made interventions upon the photographic surface. It examines theoretical discussions and debates on the role of memory, objects and collage including the writings of Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, and Joan Gibbons, that guide the exploration of self-representation, identity, and gender. This in turn provides a context for my art practice. Analyses of works of other artists such as, Claude Cahun, Arnulf Rainer, and Julie Rrap, informed examination of my artworks. The exegesis argues that evolution of critical dialogues around selfrepresentation cannot be confined to the external – in other words, physical aspects and appearances – but must extend to the internal, the emotional, and the subjective.
I argue that liminality opens up a space of uncertainty and contention that allows interpretation to go deeply beyond the surface of the work, beyond a mirror likeness and beyond the gaze. The intervention of the intuitive hand upon the surface of the photograph is key to creating multi-layered self-representations – the liminal self. Liminality is a space where a critical dialogue around gender, memory, and representation itself can be evoked.