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Doctoral Thesis Abstract

Disidentification, Mimicry, Melancholia and Image: Queer Reconfigurations in Contemporary Visual Arts  

This thesis analyses expressions of queer tendencies in contemporary visual arts. Its main objective is to focus on gender-conscious strategies of performative excess realized by mimicries and triggered by identification and identity troubles. I use ‘queer’ to conceptualize a performance which perturbs hetero-normative dialectics of visual representation and disrupts the dynamics of its fixating recognition. I refer to the word ‘tendency’ in order to indicate the latency and/or the valency of the image in such a performance. Concentrating on the oeuvres of David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe, Del LaGrace Volcano, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Gilbert & George, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Todd Haynes and Derek Jarman, this thesis attempts to rethink ethics and aesthetics in the intersecting domains of queer theory, pastiche and contemporary artistic practice. My work focuses on the visual discourses of pastiche and parody in order to critically investigate the possibilities and the impasses of strategic mimicries, for instance the rhetoric of ‘drag’, with regard to representation. My case studies explore sexually informed methods of miming and pastiching and investigate the kind of dialogue that such narcissistic textual modes of queer self-consciousness might provoke. I read the art-works of these nine artists in terms of their possible affinities with queer problematizations of prevailing ideas about sexed, gendered, sexualized body. I treat these modes of mimicry, such as drag, copy, camp, pastiche and parody, within a logic of textual and sexual penetrations and consider them as queer practices of improper incorporations in the field of vision. My thesis further advances the argument that the queer performativities and thus the postmodern pastiche-effects in these visual modes encode a liminalized authorial signature, as well as authored modes of deviant temporalities. By means of detailed discussions of these nine key figures, I aim to demonstrate various author-functions in queer narrations of body and to consider ways in which they diversely utilize the aggressively melancholic and/or the radically narcissistic possibilities of the Queer in a critical aesthetic practice of surface and depth.


This page last modified 26 September, 2012 by [UCL Mellon Admin]

Book cover: Muamma

Book cover: Unpacking the collection

imag: book cover, Federica  Mazzara

Discursive Constructions of Identity in European Politics

Singing Poets: Literature and Popular Music in France and Greece (1945-1975)

Northern Constellations: New Readings in Nordic Cinema by Claire Thomson, UCL Mellon Fellow (2004-2006)

Mediating the Nation by Mirca Madianou, UCL Mellon Fellow (2002-2004)

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