Venus in the 'Looking-glass': para-classicism and the trans-body in the works of Igor Mitoraj and Marc Quinn
2011-05-03T07:53:18Z (GMT) by
This thesis offers a theoretical investigation into concepts of beauty, the sculptured body and myths of Venus and Medusa, primarily through the works of Igor Mitoraj and Marc Quinn. These themes are transformed and inverted in the Looking-glass towards the trans-body, which is fragmented, sometimes monstrous, grotesque or ugly, but it is still complete. Resonating with Eros, it advocates a new trans-sexuality and establishes a concept of new desire , both of which question the legitimacy and limits of the concept of gender in relation to the body. This thesis proposes looking at the body beyond straightforward associations with a particular sex, incorporating approaches beyond art historical and art critical perspectives. Overall, the argument is informed by three particular concepts - paratopisms, paralogisms and parachronisms - drawn from the writings of Jean-François Lyotard. Jean Baudrillard s idea of the trans and swallowing the mirror provides another focus for the thesis. As such, this work is an attempt to go through to the other side of the mirror with respect to topos here, aesthetics and narratives; logos here, beauty and ugliness; and chronos in this research, the new desire. Through a detailed analysis of a number of case-studies I focus on the transformation of the trope of the classical into para-classical; the implosion of Venus into Medusa, beauty into ugliness, perfection into imperfection and ability into disability; and, finally, the metamorphosis of the sculptured body in the mirror. The figure of Venus is utilised in order to scrutinise the modifications and metamorphoses, both internal and external, of the body in relation to the fragment and the classical Greco-Roman ideal. The thesis aims to bring to the study of sculpture a deconstruction of the body through readings on gender, subjectivities and the gaze of the other. It focuses on the female body, represented by the figure of Venus, which is modified and appropriated according to patriarchal order, but also, as it relies on Hélène Cixous's Medusa laugh, it generates a new perspective in seeing the body as a hybrid; a metamorphosing construct, able to transform beyond and within corporeality. Viewing the body as an entity in a constant state of flux, shifting identities and gender, this study proposes this new concept - trans-body as a response to the current hyperreal simulated model of sexuality, and stimulates (and simulates) a change of focus in opticality towards illusions and trans-vesting myths.