Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Unintelligible Bodies: Surrealism and Queerness in Contemporary Tunisian Women’s Art
by Butler, Anne Marie E., Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2019, 203; 22615208
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates artworks produced between 2000 – 2017 by five contemporary Tunisian women artists. These years span the last eleven years of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali’s dictatorship and the first six years of the post-2011 revolution socio-political landscape. In doing so, this study demonstrates that under Ben Ali, artists such as Aicha Filali and Meriem Bouderbala used surrealism to critique the state and the president, while after the fall of the regime, surrealism remained a method by which Houda Ghorbel and Ymène Chetouane could criticize the continuance of embedded authoritarian systems. In particular, the artworks in this study contain bodies that deploy the uncanny in order to disturb categories of normalcy. In the 2010s, queerness also emerged in contemporary Tunisian women’s art as an approach to the subversion of authority. Queer artist Aïcha Snoussi demonstrates how unintelligible bodies, particularly queer bodies that allude to deviance in sexuality and sex acts, confound the Tunisian authoritarian system that is structured upon genital sex, gender, and the family in the service of the nation-state. The continuance of surrealism and the addition of queerness in contemporary Tunisian women’s art reveals that these artists prioritize approaches that are nuanced in intended meaning and that can also sustain multiple interpretations, both of which enable subtle and complex critical positions in regards to politics, social life, gender, and sexuality in Tunisia.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Katz, Jonathan D.
Commitee: Tumbas, Jasmina, Varnado, Christine, Ayoub, Dima
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: Global Gender and Sexuality Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 81/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Art history, Sexuality, LGBTQ studies
Keywords: Contemporary art, Queer, Surrealism, Tunisia
Publication Number: 22615208
ISBN: 9781088380253
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