Genital sensation: abrasive bodies in feminist performance

  • Rachel Duncan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Genital sensation sets out to review the practice of “cunt art” as a diverse range of feminist performative works that represent the female genitalia and questions whether vulvar works can disrupt the phallocentric models of exclusion, absence and lack. Working from a poststructuralist perspective and drawing on notions of the feminist nomad and transdisciplinarity as a related methodology (Braidotti, 1994), this project assembles the criticisms and politics involved in this explicit display of the female body. Bringing some of the most potent and commonly disputed issues in feminist debate to the forefront, this study tackles the controversies which surround the use of the female body in performance art. Using a framework of performativity and embodied interpretative exchange, via Schneider (1996; also Grosz, 1994), to refuse the distance of disembodied viewing, via Jones (1998; 1999), this project investigates the performance of sex, difference, cultural assumptions and iconoclasm through feminist employment of this explicitly marked body. This text, divided into investigations of the disruptive body, considers the cultural iconoclasm of cunt art and phallocentric exclusion of women via the work of Irigaray (1996) and Braidotti; the artistic iconoclasm and pornographic alignment of cunt art through Nead (1997) and McNair (1996); and the feminist iconoclasm of cunt art, in addition to the abrasive and subversive possibilities constituent within a practice that challenges the invisibility of the vulva and notions of the forbidden. This project proposes the female body as “political fiction” that reflects particular cultural values and considers ideas of feminist re-reading and feminist writing through Irigaray and Cixous (1983). Ultimately the recurrent focuses of this study are difference and female subjectivity that revolve around disrupting notions of lack or absence through the personal and political agency affected by these works.
Date of Award2005
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
  • University of Leicester
SupervisorFranc Chamberlain (Supervisor) & Jumai Ewu (Supervisor)

Cite this

Genital sensation: abrasive bodies in feminist performance
Duncan, R. (Author). 2005

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis