Feral objects and acts of domestic piracy: sculpture, secular magic, and strategies of feminist disruption

Chambers, Paula St. Clare (2020) Feral objects and acts of domestic piracy: sculpture, secular magic, and strategies of feminist disruption. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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This practice-­led doctoral project is a material investigation of the potential for sculptural artworks to perform disruptive, dissenting and resistant narratives of women and girls’ intersubjective relationship with the material culture of feminine domesticity. I argue for the entanglement of objects, ideas, bodies and artwork as a material-­led encounter and ask, what might a feminist new materialism look like when the focus is on domestic objects, and how can we draw meaning from these objects when they perform as sculpture?

I propose a category of material culture I call ‘feral objects’, the overlooked and undervalued materiality of consumer culture as identified by Attfield (2000), objects that perform in the threshold spaces of society and culture (Crewe and Gregson, 2003). I analyse feral objects in their role as sculpture to argue for a feminist new materialism that disrupts subject/object hierarchies (Boscagli, 2014). Developing Eckstein and Schwarz’s (2014) identification of piracy as a boundary practice, I introduce the term ‘domestic piracy’ to identify material-­led strategies of feminist disruption as activism materialised as sculptural artworks.

Drawing upon Bennett’s (2010) vital materialism and Pil and Galia Kollectiv’s (2010) proposition that sculpture and installations made from found objects are performative in and of themselves, I argue that the embodied encounter with sculpture and installation
made from found domestic objects materialises the agency of objects to perform an inter-­relationality that is agentic of corporeal feminism (Meskimmon, 2019).

I analyse poltergeist phenomena as ‘secular magic’, the sleight-­of-­hand of conjuring (During, 2002), proposing that secular magic materialises feminine domestic disruption as the embodied encounter between (feminine) subject and (domestic) object. I argue that the trickery or sleight-of-­hand required to construct sculptural artworks performs feminist strategies of domestic dissent enacted by women and girls through feminine material culture (Owen, 1989).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
B. > Theses
Item ID: 33070
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 05 May 2021 12:29
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:37
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/33070

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