Flooding The Limits Of Thought: Language, Desire, And Aesthetic Experience
Negrete Martinez, Maria
This dissertation examines works by Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle, Marguerite Duras, Roni Horn, Clarice Lispector, and Kiki Smith, to discuss the rethinking of reading, viewing, and dwelling that they incite. My selection of enigmatic pieces demonstrates how each one uniquely sets forth a fundamental claim: that the work of art consists in closing in on "l'insaisissable de la pensée," a phrase coined by Hélène Cixous in describing Roni Horn's reworking of a text by Clarice Lispector. I turn to discuss the reader's role upon encountering this ungraspable of thought, since all of the pieces in play here explicitly call for a reader's participation in the creative process constitutive of the work of art. I advance that they challenge the reader to an interpretation more concerned with a vibrancy that overflows signification than with retrieving meaning. The work of art creates spaces made up of oblique, non-interchangeable webs of signifiers, so as to construct, as process and site, what resists being understood in terms of an apprehensible object. Given the fleeting nature of water and flows, they materialize the work's uncharted event-in sculptural installations combining water and transparent glass or in photographs and film sequences featuring surfaces of streams coursing through cities. My project details, furthermore, the way in which desire fuels this aesthetic experience in the sense, as manifest in the French 'expérience,' of an experiment: a constrained, perilous exposure to the unknown. Foregrounding figures of liquidity and flow, I show that desire's excessive quality is here intrinsic to questions of sexual difference. My dissertation discusses femininity as a stance regarding desire that offers unique perspectives on language and knowledge, developing its privileged position to undertake reading that confronts the limits of thought, which is integral to the artistic procedure as articulated by these pieces. Intertextuality informs my approach to each of the works, finding novel bridges among them and pivotal references they bear to the French literary canon and Western philosophy.
Aesthetics; Louise Bourgeois; Sophie Calle; Marguerite Duras; Roni Horn; Clarice Lispector; Kiki Smith
McNulty, Tracy K.
Bosteels, Bruno; Keller, Patricia M.; Berger, Anne Emanuelle
Ph.D. of Romance Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis