Developing Productive Mimesis in the Age of Screened Oppression: Rhetorics of Flattening and Fragmentation in the Making of New Model Army

Aloysius, Linda. 2018. Developing Productive Mimesis in the Age of Screened Oppression: Rhetorics of Flattening and Fragmentation in the Making of New Model Army. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The thesis responds to Hilary Robinson's (2006) claim that it is difficult for women to develop a syntax for mediating their subjectivities in symbolic terms. The thesis argues there is a need to account for the background conditions affecting women's production of such syntaxes, particularly women's experiences of patriarchy.

In addressing this need, the thesis follows currents in women’s art since the 1960s in which the visual fragmentation and flattening of woman occurs. In accounting for these practices, the discussion addresses themes such as women’s overcoming of patriarchy, women's screened oppression, women's unpaid reproductive and domestic labour, the contradictory position of the mother workerartist, the gaze and the politics of looking, geophilosophy, standpoint feminism, productive mimesis, hysterical art and developments to film theory.

Drawing from notions of geophilosophy the thesis examines works by EXPORT, Rosler, Wilke, Bourgeois, Wilkes, Banner, Beecroft and Lucas, arguing that, when geophilosophically mapped, these works form feminist standpoints, in which subversive knowledges of women's lived experiences of patriarchy are held and through which important affective relations are activated. A further argument is that the women artists’ adaptation of patriarchal techniques of visual fragmentation and flattening is carried out in response to the commodification and subversion of women via their image.

These ideas are considered relative to early and recent film theories; the thesis draws on analyses by Friedberg, Wasson and others, to consider the problems caused by early psychoanalytic film theories by Mulvey and Doane, arguing the latter retain notions of pure cinema and Freudian biologism, thus dis-servicing the possibility of new knowledges and approaches being generated regarding women’s sculpture. The claim is that sculpture has a role to play in unravelling the notion of the discrete film object, to re-cast theoretical debates of film relative to (women’s) urban and neo-liberalist living.

To develop this argument, the thesis examines Hilary Robinson's rationale for productive mimesis, including her morphological approach to the symbolic mediation of women's oppression, arguing that the term "between-ing" more appropriately describes how women's sculptural syntaxes actively engender affective relations by putting in place a morphological rather than anatomical approach to notions of language. This argument is refined relative to notions of hysteria, with a further claim being that hysterical art does have feminist merit, but, to be considered as such, requires an expansion of feminist parameters.

Within this context, my own sculptural practice is analysed. Claims emerging from this analysis are that, to account for my practice in theoretical terms, it becomes necessary to synthesise aspects of geophilosophy, standpoint feminism and productive mimesis and that, whilst the synthesis does not resolve differences between these theories, or fully align them with my practice, it does provide a new perspective on knowledges of women's art and of the contradictory position of the (single) mother-artist-worker.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Productive mimesis, Screened oppression, New Model Army, Fragmentation, Flattening, Art, Sculpture,Working class background, Making, Single mother, Marginalisation, Geophilosophy, Standpoint theory, Politics of Looking, Gaze, Hysteria

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31 January 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

22 Feb 2018 16:24

Last Modified:

13 Jan 2023 02:26


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