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Another Way of Being: The Performative Practices of Contemporary Female Colombian Artists


RESULTADO DE INVESTIGACIÓN: Investigación Doctoral - Faculty of the College of Fine Arts of Ohio University (2015)



This is a feminist project that investigates the performative practices of contemporary female Colombian artists. It was guided by a main research question: Is there a particular kind of strength that comes from their specific situation as contemporary Colombian female artists? As such, this dissertation relies on fieldwork and critical theory in order to elucidate how such diverse individuals perform multiple art practices and what they do in and with their art practices. Two dozen women opened their doors, provided their time for video taped conversation and gave their archival material for the realization of this project. The main hypothesis this dissertation worked with relates to the existence of a possible double work or doubling of the work a woman artist executes in the need to undo what has been culturally assigned in order to then create her own images, ideas and concepts about being a woman in her society. Within the undoing and the doing, a liminal space allows the artists to realize how the cultural ideas of feminine essences evidence a conceptual void. Once the artistic work uncovers these supposed essences as false expectations, the strength that emanates from the vantage point of un-definition becomes the source of unbound creativity that produces artwork of political significance.

The themes that emerged during fieldwork and writing show that in the same way these artists become others; multiplying possibilities of being while in their practices, they are able to influence their surroundings in minute, effective ways. Otherness is a central theme that has aided the understanding of the work these women realize. An important theoretical source is the seminal work of Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex, even though in five chapters the artistic work of nine artists are thoroughly discussed through multiple theories that traverse the text. Some of the theorists that have aided the present text are: Gloria Anzaldúa, Rosi Braidoti, Judith Butler, Hélène Cixous, Jacques Derrida, Bracha Ettinger, Michel Foucault, Luce Irigaray, Catherine Malabou, Laura Mulvey, Jean Luc Nancy, Peggy Phelan, Griselda Pollock, Jacques Ranciere, and Monique Wittig.


Let us start with naming. This is a starting point for a text that names itself Another of Being after the last line of a poem by Rosario Castellanos (1925-1974), written in 1948. This Mexican woman’s poem gave me the sign I needed to understand the direction this project was to take. Every time I forgot its path, the poem brought me back. This poem talks about the difficulty of being another way, moving away from a pre-determined destiny. The poem names historical women as examples of ways of being that have become signs for others in similar processes. I propose to do as an artist does, as a poet does. I am supporting an indefinite trace that leads to another place because making is not definite. It is a process that makes us in its own way. While in this project, I am being made. The words of this Mexican poet always seem to come back to me when I need some more reassurance that the path I chose is the correct one. With Rosario I become one who meditates at this threshold. I hope to give my readers a similar place full of possibilities.

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