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Carrying others: A feminist materialist approach to research-creation

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Everyone is connected and operates with or alongside a maternal structure. As psychologist Bracha L. Ettinger states, we all hold within us an imprint or memory of being carried — carried across landscapes, across time, into destinations unknown (Ettinger, 2006). This doctoral dissertation takes up these poetics through an interdisciplinary investigation of Feminist Materialist Research-Creation practices and strategies. Referencing recent traditions of Art Intervention, Performance Art, Land Art, and the canon of feminist art history, this research mirrors, connects with, and critiques digital imaginaries and considers how the maternal body responds to the agency of things in the world. This research makes a unique contribution to the humanities, feminist scholarship, and Research-Creation practices by exploring strategies and subjectivities, new positions of theorization, and analyses that unsettle contemporary approaches to artistic research. This includes a series of theoretical texts, experimental framing, and a portfolio of eight artworks that were individually and collaboratively created and produced between 2016–2019: Traces of Motherhood; Domestic Cupboards; Magical Beast: The Space Within, Out and In-Between, Hunting Self; Mothering Bacteria: The Body as an Interface; Floating in the In-Between; Carrying Others; and Nostalgic Geography: Mama and Papa have Trains, Orchards and Mountains in their Backyard. Showcased with the artwork are digital and technological ephemera, including curatorial conversations, exhibition and submission text, process documentation, links, posters, and other preparatory information. This document also introduces a series of interludes and refections that construct and demonstrate alternative ways of approaching the central ideas, themes, and methodological and theoretical ideas explored in the thesis. Cumulatively, these creative articulations foreground the complexities, process, and nuances of Feminist Materialist approaches to Research-Creation. This document also presents the three main themes which include: 1) Materiality; 2) the Optical Unconscious; and 3) the Technological Unconscious; and, take up the three salient concepts and theories: 1) Carriance; 2) Feminist Materialism; and, 3) Research-Creation. In particular, I argue that Carriance aligns with ideas of care, co-production and becomes a creative way of thinking about connection. Each of the eight artworks demonstrate aspects of Carriance, collaboration, and connection and present emergent ways to consider creative methods, methodologies, and expanded feminist expressions. By discussing a variety of projects and creative forms, this dissertation is a speculative art-making investigation that foregrounds human and non-human relationships, ecofeminist perspectives, and mothering, opening up the term Carriance in a variety of ways to show how it can be more than one method, form, or approach with much potential to challenge, encourage and elicit embodied ways of knowing.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Hennessy, Kate
Thesis advisor: Schiphorst, Thecla
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