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The book as metaphor for the female self : a visual investigation through the medium of the artist's book


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Oakes, LJ 2009 , 'The book as metaphor for the female self : a visual investigation through the medium of the artist's book', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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One of the primary aims of my project is to consider how the book can be used visually as a vehicle to express the self and the female body. The impetus for this investigation came from my own interest in books and the stories that they hold. As my investigation progressed it became a self portrait, a way to both reveal and conceal my own story. The story of my chronic disease gave me a way to pull apart and reconstruct what a book could be. I have considered the notion that traumatic experience can manifest internally and physically emerge like a hidden text unfolding.
The project outlines some of the history of the book, cultural associations of the book with women and the development of the artists' book. I look at how the physicality and language associated with the book has similarities with the female body.
To inform my investigation I examined the work of artists who primarily address the related themes of the body, the book and the female self. I particularly looked at Paula Rego, Johanna Drucker, Nancy Spero, Audrey Niffenegger and Sally Smart who all make direct reference to their own stories using the idea of the book. I also drew on the writings of Johanna Drucker and Keith Smith who have both written extensively about the artists' book. Alberto Manguel's History of Reading and Stephen Bollman's book, Reading Woman, particularly Karen Joy Fowler's thoughts in her foreword about women reading, were also significant to my research.
My visual investigation employed strategies of deconstruction and reconstruction of books, photographs and text. I examined Elizabethan portraits of women with books and Victorian photographic portraits, medical and anatomical drawings, old fashioned books on etiquette, fairy tales and revisited my family album. I reconfigured these sources to make a story that is more personal to myself, turning the library I was given into a library that better expresses myself. However, the project is neither cathartic nor nostalgic.
In the final submission I present books as sculpture, as wearable objects, as props, as images and all as vehicles for the story of my physical and emotional traumas. Altogether, the work reveals a fragmented and broken text, giving glimpses of my past rather than a full disclosure of the actual story.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Oakes, LJ
Keywords: Women in art, Books in art, Women
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Copyright 2009 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 (MFA)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

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