Constructing self : mimicry and multiplicity in the work of Frida Kahlo, Berni Searle, Steven Cohen, and Rory Klopper.
Klopper, Rory Wallace.
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The purpose of this dissertation is to interrogate my perception of self which is grounded in my visual arts practice. Through my enquiry into the works of Steven Cohen, Berni Searle, and Frida Kahlo, I expose the corporeal body as an illusion of sociological enculturation. Using concepts situated within sociological discourse, for example, I foreground the grotesque body as a body in the act of becoming, as theorised by Mikhail Bakhtin. I consider the multiplicities inherent in queer theories and interpret these multiplicities through my Fine Art practice. I use the concept of the cadaver exquisite as a vehicle to draw these theories into a visual realm; situated within fine art making. I scrutinise processes, imagery and motivations that underlie the search for self. I present my findings through consideration of select works by Steven Cohen, Berni Searle, Frida Kahlo, and myself. I draw connections between the work of these artists and my own practice. Chief among the works I focus on are my series of self-portraits, namely, Smile Like You Mean It (2013), Crap Baby (Part III): The Intervention (2014), and I Tried To Make You See (2014); my paper cut-outs, namely The Dancer (2015) and a series of photographic work, namely, Jellyfish: series I (2015) and, Jellyfish: series II (2016), as well as the following assemblages: Fat Man (2015), Phantom of the Opera (2015), Jellyfish (2015), Mantis (2015), and Cake (2014 / 2015). I draw attention in my analysis of my own practice to the role played in the development of these works by examining the performance art of Steven Cohen, namely, Chandelier (2001 – 2002), the installation work of Berni Searle, namely, Snow White (2001), and the self-portraits of Frida Kahlo, namely, Self-portrait with Necklace of Thorn (1940).