(Dis)Identifying Female Archetypes (2003 – 2006):
‘Joan Trial’, ‘Magdalena Makeup’ and ‘Medea/Mothers’ Clothes’
From 2003-2006 I was a practice as research PhD student at the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts. I was (dis)identifying female archetypes in live art. I developed three projects out of the ‘home’ setting. In doing so I have relied on my ‘female foreign’ condition, my local community, my lived experience and subsequently I developed my performance making tactics (such as intervening into my theatre background, homemade video style, family and friends as collaborators, being solo, the use of autobiographical material and a personal style of writing). My PhD thesis considers a feminist arts practice as a form of political agency. My research is practice-led. It consists of three performances/live art events (‘Medea/Mothers’ Clothes’, ‘Magdalena Makeup’ and ‘Joan Trial’), its documentation on three sets of DVDs and a written dissertation.
Female archetypes, which have tended to be associated with the canonical, underpin my research investigations. Through my arts practice I intervene in three archetypal images of women that are representative of the patriarchal canon: Medea (the anti-mother), Mary Magdalene (the penitent whore) and Joan of Arc (virgin martyr). I juxtapose their ‘universality’ with the experiential, the local and the contemporary. I draw on the authoritative personal voice of the lived anxiety of the experience of motherhood (Medea), name identification (Mary Magdalene), spirituality/heroism (Joan of Arc) and the sense of ‘being foreign’, seen as ‘Other’. Working from my subject figuration of a ‘Foreigner’ (Croatian, living in Britain), my local community and experience of my daily life as a mother and artist-researcher in Liverpool, I (dis)identify with socio-culturally prescribed forms of the feminine, as conventionally represented by these archetypes.
My thesis is situated and contextualized within the field of contemporary British Live Art practices, feminist solo performance and transnational arts practices.