STEWING IN HER OWN JUICES: THE ESSENTIAL AND DESIROUS VAGINA (Judy Chicago and Helen Chadwick)
Harper, Catherine (1999) STEWING IN HER OWN JUICES: THE ESSENTIAL AND DESIROUS VAGINA (Judy Chicago and Helen Chadwick) Masters thesis, Goldsmiths College, University of London.
In Art and Lies (1994) Jeanette Winterson expressed the erotic, engorged, purposeful quality of a particular conscious and active desire in her subjective “I”. This writing, concerned with self identity through autobiography, with the questioning and explanation of desire, and with rejection of fixed notions of sexuality, embodied elements fundamental to ‘queer’ culture . This essay examines the territories of essentialism, biological reduction, the theorised supposition of the ‘male gaze’, and the constitution of ‘feminine selfhood’ first presented by much of the vaginal work produced by West Coast US feminist artists of the 1970s. The stigmatised female body, historically/pornographically objectified, is troubling, and the text seeks to rethink how the legitimately sensual and desirous body might ‘fit’ between its presentation as vaginal ‘I’ metaphor and the gazing ‘eye’ of the audience. Themes of power, consumption and language provide fascinating territories for exploration of female sexuality and subjective desire, for appraisal of Judy Chicago’s Georgia O’Keeffe’s Dinner Party Plate (1974-79) and Helen Chadwick’s Eat Me (1991).
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