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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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Faludi Ball, KA 2004 , 'Vena casa : the defloration of maternity : an exploration through sculpture of ambivalence, abjection and melancholia within the mother and daughter dyad', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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 — in particular the works of Louise Bourgeois, but also those of
Mary Kelly, and artists Kiki Smith, Sally Mann, Cathy de Monchaux and Nina
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

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Faludi Ball, KA
Keywords: Mothers in art, Motherhood in art, Sculpture, Australian
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

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).

Additional Information:

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

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