Creepy, cute and radically soft: unpacking the importance of contemporary feminist erotic art

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Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The value of art that lies beyond surface levels of aestheticism has been discussed in academic depth, yet a feminist erotic art tends to escape such analyses, possibly due to its fringe status both in form and subject matter. It is possible, however, that this ‘lowbrow’ amalgamation holds many interpretative possibilities and is worth critically engaging with. Thus, by drawing upon my own creative practice as well as works by other feminine and non-binary identifying artists, this thesis unpacks how erotic art can act as a multifaceted tool of catharsis to explore entanglements of sexuality. An element of oddity is also explored by providing a case study of deviance, or when ‘odd’ erotic artworks have faced censorship and the possible reasons therefor and implications thereof. This unorthodoxy is further bolstered by conceptualising catharsis through a detangling of the obsessive desire to create fantastical images. Through a comparison to ‘lowbrow’ or dissident art forms, it is argued that feminist erotic art can exist both as a revolutionary space of reclamation and self-discovery both for the artist and the viewer. Radical softness and eroticism are thus discussed as a tool of repossession. Further, it is also argued that feminist erotic art can attain both personal and intersectionally feminist community-building power through creating a realm that is both fantastical and relatable for various ‘othered’ individuals. Accordingly, the importance of sharing sex-positive imagery that softly combats heteropatriarchal norms of representation is highlighted.
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Thesis (MA(VA))--Stellenbosch University, 2021.
Visual Arts, Feminism and art, Erotic art, UCTD