The artist's performative practice within the anti-ocularcentric discourse
The thesis discusses the development of my artistic research in relation to the critique of the ocularcentric Western philosophical tradition developed by twentieth century French thought, as referred to by Martin Jay and Amelia Jones. The work reviews the positions of both authors with respect to the relationship between Lacan's Mirror Stage and Gaze and Merleau-Ponty's Chiasm or Intertwining, within two areas of investigation: the self and strategies for its engagement with the external world. The research was conducted by adopting an evolutionary approach, which allowed me to test hypotheses through artistic experimentation. The structure of the thesis encompasses these two theoretical discussions in relation to my artistic practice, fully presented in the enclosed cd-rom. The first discussion, in Part I and II analyses the Mirror Stage and the emerging of the self, its psychological implications and manifestations in the history of art, with particular emphasis on self-portraiture, the performative self, Body Art and my own production. In Part III, the concept of Chiasm/Intertwining - developed from the notions of visuality and Gaze - is discussed in relation to inter-subjectivity in Body Art. The issue of the interaction between artist/audience and environment is also investigated in my most recent artworks, which question the primacy of vision over the other senses. I believe my original contribution to be both in the content of the artworks and the methodology adopted, rather than at theoretical level. By adopting a set strategy in the creation of my work, I challenged the static artist-audience relationship implicit in the one-way perception of representations based on central-focus perspective. My hypothesis, which encompasses a two-way artist-audience interaction, was first tested in the body of work I produced in 1999. The theoretical argument of chiasmatic intertwining I subsequently developed, allowed me to place my practice within the antiocularcentric discourse and confirmed the direction undertaken in the practice to be satisfactory. The validity of my initial hypothesis was further confirmed by the participation of the audience in aspects of the art making process of the recent videolive installations.