University of Tasmania
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Vena casa : the defloration of maternity : an exploration through sculpture of ambivalence, abjection and melancholia within the mother and daughter dyad

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posted on 2023-05-26, 21:03 authored by Faludi Ball, KA
This project is concerned with redressing the paucity of representations of ambivalence, abjection and melancholia within the dyadic relationship of mother and daughter. It challenges the tradition of representing maternity as an innate and all-encompassing pleasure and seeks to represent the so far inadequately explored, 'underbelly' of maternal experience through the medium of sculpture. Sculptural representations of the mother-daughter dyad that stray from cultural niceties and norms are essentially terra incognita. Although this topic has been addressed to an extent within performance and literature; there is a glaring lack of visual art, and in particular sculptural work, that directly addresses this complex area within such a fundamental human arena of relationship. Within contemporary western culture, the dynamics of the mother and daughter relationship is a difficult subject concealed beneath a saccharine facade of idealised thinking It gets more contentious still, as the journey into a particularly uncharted area of the dyad is taken - the journey into the 'forbidden zone' of maternal ambivalence and abjection. Recent psychological research has made it clear that the incidence of ambivalence within the mother and daughter dyad is much higher than is popularly imagined. Yet it is a subject which has virtually escaped visual representation within Western art. Historically in Western society male artists and authors have been overwhelmingly responsible for the presentation of images of motherhood and this has generally followed the format of adoring mother/Madonna with son. This is a patriarchal tradition; a tradition of Christianity - a tradition redolent of systems of social control. Where are the representations of the mother and daughter relationship within our culture that could go some way toward reflecting with integrity and without guile, the wide-ranging actualities of maternity? Where are the representations of maternal ambivalence, of mothers' despair, of the body's abjection? The research within this project is informed by an understanding of relevant writings of Julia Kristeva, and as such is permeated by the 'darkness' that resides within this French philosopher's work. To a lesser extent, the writings of Kristeva's contemporary, Irigaray informs the thesis, as do specific threads of thought within Klein's early psychoanalytic theories (particularly issues around ambivalence and the uncanny.). The research also draws on autobiographical experiences and articulates a body of visual predecessors and sculptural influences upon Vena Casa ‚ÄövÑvÆ in particular the works of Louise Bourgeois, but also those of Mary Kelly, and artists Kiki Smith, Sally Mann, Cathy de Monchaux and Nina Saunders. Vena Casa is an exhibition of six (gallery sited) sculptural installations. Each installation is contained within its own room or cell. Each cell is a choreographed environment that is intended to evoke an ambience influenced by or belonging to something like a hospital ward, or an institutional type setting. Each installation is accessed by a central passage. Each cell, or space, is lit in a minimal manner, to support the multiple themes of the hidden-abject, the melancholic, and of 'intimacy verses intrusion' - dark undercurrents that the sculptures themselves are intended to invoke.


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Copyright 2004 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 (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2004. Includes bibliographical references

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