Allynn Carpenter MFA Visual Studies Thesis Spring 2018

In this essay, I am examining the use of collage as a method to examine embodiment, specifically in regards to transgender bodies. Being a transgender man in a world where transgressing gender boundaries is highly controversial, this subject is both personal and relevant to current cultural conversations about gender. The history of collage being political and experimental, it speaks to rupture, re-organization, and a blurring of boundaries.
In The Rent and Rendered Body: Collage as Method and Metaphor, I look at the fracturing of identity and the refusal of categorization that is commonly a queer experience. Looking to monsters, who similarly threaten society’s expectations and norms, this work examines the connections between the queer, the monstrous, and collage in regards to composite bodies and identities. Further, to think about the potential of collage in describing identity as a moving, shifting self-perception, I look at the relationship between the body and subjectivity.
When our senses are engaged by viewing art, we experience a heightened awareness of our flesh, whether the bodies we see are beautiful, ugly, violent, or all of these things. This awareness invokes empathy, which gives these images the power to change individual understandings of embodiment. This thesis situates the artist’s practice in relation to these considerations, where the vulnerability of displaying one’s body, complete with scars and gender inadequacies, act as a powerful invitation to invite the viewer to contemplate their own.

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MFA in Visual Studies Thesis Works