Frida's moustache : making faces in women's self-portraiture, an exegesis

Wood, Deborah (2001) Frida's moustache : making faces in women's self-portraiture, an exegesis. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This exegesis combines theory and art practice to interrogate the idea that self-portraiture by women artists can be positioned, and interpreted, as a practice that strategically intervenes in the politics of representation, gender and identity. The focus of this study is the face. The represented female face is identified as a site that is both problematic and dynamic for women artists. The face involves two contradictory traditions of representation for women. It is generally used in portraiture and self-portraiture to indicate the presence of the individual, the 'subject'. However, the female face has more often been represented as a de-individualised site, the object. When a woman artist attempts to make a self-portrait she must, therefore, re-negotiate the relationship between object and subject in order to make room for her own representations of subjectivity. In this study I closely analyse how other women artists have employed their faces in their self-portraits. I also provide insights into my own practice of self-portraiture through the use of a commentary, which follows my thoughts and decisions throughout the art making process. I link the art works to theoretical debates concerning feminist art history, faciality and subjectivity. By inter-weaving praxis and theory in this way the study provides a new perspective on these debates.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1901 Art Theory and Criticism
Historical > FOR Classification > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society
Keywords self-portraits, self-portraitures, face, face in art, facial representation, women artists, women in art, art history, female identity, artistic representation, art criticism, artistic interpretation, feminism, feminist
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