Homework: Disrupting National Imaginaries with Testimonial Public Art and Visual Culture
Collins Bretell, Adrienne
In recent years, the study of the body has developed rapidly across many disciplines, including visual art, art history, gender and cultural studies, queer theory and sociology among others. In regards to the body, definitions of the “human,” “sub-human,” “acceptable,” “unspeakable” and “non-human” vary widely depending on the societal context. In Western culture, artists have introduced new bodies and ideas to viewers. What may have been unspeakable a century ago, such as the queer body and self-asserting sexual female body, is now more commonplace, although there is still resistance. The introduction of new and unspeakable bodies is always met with controversy. Often the contested unspeakable body is not new but rather is brought into visibility in public spaces that have been purposed for the representation of normative dominant bodies that ‘belonged.’ This paper has two aims; one is to reflect on the figure of the “unspeakable” body in collective national memory, past and present; the second aim is to ask questions about the role of art and visual culture in contesting, decoding and re-figuring discourses of national identity and the ideal citizenry.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
DepartmentArt and Art History
CommitteeLongman, Mary; Bell, Keith
Copyright DateJuly 2013