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Title: Identity politics and the performative : encounters with recent Jewish art
Author: Garfield, Rachel
ISNI:       0000 0004 2729 7190
Awarding Body: Royal College of Art
Current Institution: Royal College of Art
Date of Award: 2003
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My research explores the interplay between identity politics, as it has emerged in Britain since the early 1980s and Jewish identity in the visual arts. I ask why there has not been a movement to make Jewish art visible within mainstream art practice and why Jewish experiences in art have been invisible under the rubric of cultural diversity. My thesis has four main interpretive themes. The first theme is a comparative study of the strategies employed by Black and Asian artists and institutions and Jewish artists and institutions. Here I explore some of the different forces at play within the histories of the two forms of curatorial practice. The second theme examines some of the key thinkers who have framed the debates on Black identity. Stuart Hall, Kobena Mercer and Frantz Fanon inform my understanding of the development of the elision of Jewish identity within identity politics, premised upon debates grounded in geographical specificities of post-colonial diasporas and hierarchies of oppression as understood through the assumed corporeal visibility of blackness. Judith Butler offers a way of thinking about difference that is not premised upon markers of visibility. In the third theme, through Butler's reworking of Althusser's interpellation theory I question the lack of choice in how a subject forms his or her identity. Finally I study the practice of three artists, Oreet Ashery, Ruth Novaczek and Deborah Kass who, by using the cipher of an avatar, undermines any reliance on reading of self through the visual in their work. By questioning the visible and the visual in the formation and/or recognition of Jewish identity I argue that the issue has wide implications. By problematising the reliance on the visual or visibility, identity politics can reach beyond the reliance on definition and categorization which continues to exclude as much as include.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available