Brittany Craig

Joint Degree Fellow from the University of Melbourne

Dissertation Project

The Cutting Edge: Experimental Aesthetics and Gendered Bodies in the Artistic Practices of Annette Messager, Rei Kawakubo, and Lisa Robertson

This PhD dissertation examines the relationship between experimental aesthetics and the gendered body in the work of three practitioners working across different artistic fields: Annette Messager (visual arts), Rei Kawakubo (fashion design) and Lisa Robertson (literature). These artists reimagine the gendered body in unorthodox ways through artistic methods that are innovative and unconventional. I address their work from a feminist standpoint, that is, with attention to the role that gender plays in our conceptions of creativity, representation and aesthetic value. This position assumes that the works of Messager, Kawakubo and Robertson are not only significant because of their innovation of form, but because they have important socio-political implications with respect to the body, gender and sexuality.

At this point in time, the extant scholarship on these practitioners has been generated from discipline-specific perspectives and methodologies (i.e. art history, fashion studies, literary studies). While such studies are certainly informative and necessary, the scope of interpretation can be limited. As a corrective, this project applies an interdisciplinary framework that crosses borders between traditional fields of knowledge. By placing the works of Kawakubo, Messager, and Robertson into dialogue with one another, I not only aim to generate unique interpretations and readings of their individual works, but also to explore the tensions characterising the relationship between aesthetics and the body. Moreover, in keeping with contemporary debates, I believe that bodies are most productively understood as complex and dynamic entities. Consequently, this thesis uses a varied methodology that incorporates biological, social, and phenomenological perspectives. Bodies, after all, are not only symbolic and material, but inseparable from individuals and their day-to-day lived experiences.


Biography

In 2016, I completed my Bachelor of Arts (with a double major in English Literature, and Theatre and Creative Writing) with First Class Honours at the University of Melbourne. During this time, I was one of two artists on a panel entitled ‘The Early Words: Writing Trauma’ at Melbourne’s annual Emerging Writers’ Festival. 

In 2018, I completed my Honours (First Class) in English Literature and Theatre at the University of Melbourne. My thesis explored Mina Loy’s poetry, with a specific focus on its relationship to feminist politics and the Italian Futurist movement. This dissertation was awarded The Bowen Prize, awarded annually to the student who has submitted the best essay or thesis on a subject in the field of British literature or British history. I was also admitted to the Dean’s Honours list for the third time (previously in 2015 and 2016).

In 2020 I joined the RTG Minor Cosmopolitanisms.


Research Interests

  • Gender Studies
  • Modernist and Contemporary Art and Literature
  • Avant-garde and Experimental Aesthetics
  • The Body
  • Feminism