House Arrest

Fry, Katharine. 2020. House Arrest. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is directly informed by my video practice. My videos, produced between 2015 and 2019, show a female figure performing a limited series of gestures in relation to a set of objects and a containing space. I ask why the figure keeps appearing. My answer: she is under house arrest, which I define as an animate subject’s inability to experience a living return to a primal inanimate state, to the lost wholeness of an originary home. Her desire to return is contained, under compression, by the surface boundary of her skin. I elaborate on a house arrested subject in relation to my practiceand through specific works by three artists: Lili Dujourie’s black and white video Sonnet, 1974, Francesca Woodman’s series of black and white house photographs, and Jayne Parker’s black and white 16mm film K., 1989, looking to each for strategies to return home and, in the frustration of each of their attempts, reveal three moments of house arrest. I read each strategy through a psychoanalytic framework, built on close readings of Freudian texts. The precision with which I unpack specific terminology in each text, to draw out any theoretical problems or discrepancies and to elaborate the condition I call house arrest, constitutes the original contribution of this research. Key examples of this textual analysis are: the distinction between inertia as a tendency and a property in “Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” the temporal and spatial difference between the former heim of the womb and “once upon a time and in the beginning” of “The Uncanny,” the contradiction between the sensation of eternity and the threat from the external world in Civilisation and Its Discontents, and the nuances of the forms of repetition Freud conceives in “Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” “The Uncanny,” and “Remembering, Repeating, and Working Through.”

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Redacted version of thesis made available. Access to the full version containing third party copyrighted material is restricted.


psychoanalysis, feminism, time-based media, abject, skin, desire, separation, individuation, identity, subjectivity, femme-enfant, automaton, death drive, inertia, depression, gothic, mother, maternal body, primary unity, nostalgia, Freud, Lacan, Kristeva, Francesca Woodman, Jayne Parker, Lili Dujourie, Caillois, melancholy, legendary psychasthenia, hydrofeminism, immurement, oceanic feeling, skin ego, house, home, domestic, uncanny, video art

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31 December 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

23 Jun 2021 08:37

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:18


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