A visual and textual re-storying of the diary of Susanna Catharina Smit (1799-1863)

De Beer, Marlene (2017-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This doctoral project, which involves a thesis and a body of artworks, is a re-storying of the muted voices of three of my female ancestors: my mother, my grandmother and the Voortrekker woman Susanna Smit. I attempt to give voice, via a re-storying of their archives, to some of the more hidden aspects of their narratives. My objective is to draw attention to a ‘maternal debt’ that has been occluded by patriarchy, and to afford voices to the mute women who served as silent corporeal foils for men. I argue that sublimation, for women, occurs within prescriptive patriarchal cultural and social contexts, which invalidates the accusation that women might be consciously colluding in the maintenance of a phallocentric world order. The aim of this project is to reappraise historical interpretations and cultural ideological representations of these Afrikaner female subjects, and to demonstrate how these women’s seeming collusion with an oppressive and prescriptive patriarchy was largely due to internalisation of their own ascribed inferior positions as women in a male-dominated culture. From a phenomenological and embodied perspective, I explore the tension between objectified female subjects, in their attempt to achieve a form of agency and sublimation, and a patriarchal Western Symbolic. Three-dimensional artworks in porcelain and mixed media, and video (which includes poetry) form the principal method of re-storying my ancestors’ lived experiences. Through my artwork I attempt to create an awareness of the need for a feminine Imaginary and Divine.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie doktorale projek, wat ‘n teoretiese tesis sowel as ‘n versameling van kunswerke insluit, is ‘n herbetragting van die stilswyende stemme van drie van my vroulike voorsate, naamlik, my ma, ouma en die Voortrekker vrou Susanna Smit. Met hierdie hervertelling van hulle argiefmateriaal poog ek om die meer verskuilde oogpunte van hulle vertelkuns te verwoord. Ek beoog om die ‘moederskuld’, weggelaat vanweë universele historiese patriargale vertolkings, te beklemtoon, asook om seggenskap te verleen aan die vroue, wat as stilswyende tasbare buit vir mans gedien het. Ek is van mening dat vergeesteling, vir vroue, plaasvind binne voorskriftelike patriagale kulturele en sosiale raamwerke, en dat die aantyging dat vroue waarskynlik bewustelik deelneem aan die instandhouding van ‘n fallies-gesentreerde wêrleldorde, onwaar is. Die doel van hierdie projek is om historiese vertolkings, sowel as kulturele ideologiese oogpunte, van Afrikaner vroulike seggenskap te herwerk. Daardeur beoog ek om te wys dat hierdie vroue se oënskeinlike geesdriftige deelname aan ‘n onderdrukkende patriargale raamwerk, hoofskeinlik te wyte is aan die internalisering van toegekende en minderwaardige rolle. Ek gebruik ‘n fenomenelogiese an vergestalte perspektief om die spanning tussen geobjektiveerde vroulike subjektiwiteit, wat deel vorm van hul poging om agentskap en sublimasie te verkry, en ‘n Westerse patriargale raamwerk te ondersoek. Die driedimensionele kunswerke wat uit porselein en gemengde media bestaan, sowel as die video (wat gedigte insluit), vorm die vernaamste metode om die geleefde ervaringe van my voorstate oor te vertel. Met my kunswerke poog ek om bewustheid te skep van die noodsaaklikheid vir ‘n vroulike Verbeelding en Spiritualiteit.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102618
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