University Of Tasmania
whole_ClaidenRosemary1997_thesis.pdf (24.14 MB)

Subliminal mythologies of the body

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posted on 2023-05-27, 07:17 authored by Claiden, Rosemary
This thesis focuses on the ways in which costume can articulate the connections between the body and psyche.The work explores how physical sensation and emotional memories are linked across the landscape of the body The work blurs the boundaries between skin and costume.The skin itself resembles a garment; especially when peeled back to reveal the internal organs. The focus is on the 'empty dress' in order to evoke the body even more potently through its absence. Clothing is suffused with the presence of the body; its scent, posture and traits. It in turn, affects the walk, gesture and gait of the body.Costume's intimate proximity to the body makes it a volatile conduit between the interior and exterior realms of the body and psyche. It can signal unconscious desires and fears. The boundaries of the body are not sealed by the skin. The 'body image' exists beyond the physical body. Its borders are osmotic and can powerfully incorporate and expel surrounding objects , such as clothing (Grosz). A perception of body image reveals the inseparability of biological and psychical elements and the interweaving of body and costume. As an extension of physical sensation, clothing is like a prosthetic limb; at the same time alien to the body and yet integral to the body image. Once devoid of their owners, both can appear to move of their own volition. By using clothing as a surrogate for the body, costume takes on the aspects of the 'phantom body'. It invokes mourning for what is no longer there and is suffused with the presence of its now absent owner.The empty dress provokes a sense of the uncanny by suggesting the absence of the physical body, thereby evoking fears of an inevitable mortality. The research is focused on the female body. The paper describes mythological traditions that inscribe fears of mortality specifically across the female form, in a feminisation of the flesh. Sensual garments that veil a womans body become tools of a fatal seduction. An unconscious fear of women has positioned them in a space of danger and desire, embraced in the 'femme fatale'. The research considers the primacy of vision in intellectually possessing an object of desire.The installation subverts the safe distance of voyeurism and engages all the senses in a visceral reading of the work. Costumes have been constructed that resonate with the sensuality and mystique of the female form but must be entered and walked through to reveal unseen layers.The installation sets out a psychological striptease. The participants are involved in a metamorphosis that enacts the ephemeral nature of the body and costume. The visual language developed expresses a somatic intelligence which gives voice to the senses.


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Copyright 1997 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1997. Includes bibliographical references

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