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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Hannah Wilke: An Eternal Venus
by Nochella, Lauren F., M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2017, 78; 10603536
Abstract (Summary)

The American artist Hannah Wilke (1940–1993) thematized sexuality by representing the female body through a variety of styles and media, from abstract to figurative, from homoerotic to heterosexual in sculpture, painting, performance, video, and photography. Her legacy of eroticized body-based art and performance is a celebration of sexuality, the feminine, and feminism. She acknowledged the idea that gesture could reduce her to the cultural distortion that men are upheld as subject and woman as object. By engaging in self-love, she reclaimed the erotic, female body from the objectification of the male gaze. In this thesis, I will discuss the content behind Wilke’s artistic strategy of the production of artworks that address female oppression and displacement within an ingrained patriarchal societal structure. I will provide a historiography of feminism, specifically concentrating on the Second-Wave feminist movement, its influence over the representations of the female body, as well as the debate among numerous types of feminists regarding how the female body should be represented. How did Wilke channel deliberate self-objectification in order to resolve the relationship between the objectification and commodification? How does Wilke interpret feminism within the parameters of Marxism and exchange values? Was Wilke’s oeuvre essentialist or an anti-essentialist? How did Wilke manipulate herself while maintaining positive narcissism? Was Wilke’s invocation of the Goddess and goddess symbolism productive or counter-productive within the feminist movement? These are some of the questions this thesis will converge upon. Wilke was always an agitator, a visionary, a provocateur and an agent for universal humankind.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shaked, Nizan
Commitee: Kleinfelder, Karen, Paquette, Catha
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Art
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 56/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history, Museum studies
Publication Number: 10603536
ISBN: 978-0-355-16234-9
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