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The Anxious Subject: Janet Werner and the Disfigured Female Portrait


The Anxious Subject: Janet Werner and the Disfigured Female Portrait

Gagas, Andromachi (2017) The Anxious Subject: Janet Werner and the Disfigured Female Portrait. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Gagas_MA_S2017.pdf - Accepted Version


This thesis investigates the notion of an anxiously engaged viewer in relation to the paintings of women produced by Janet Werner (b.1959) over a ten-year period, from 2006 to 2016. Werner’s portraits are made up of re-purposed photographic imagery of the hyper-feminine originating in our commercialized visual pop culture, transformed through Werner’s act of repainting. While Werner’s work has been discussed in relation to pop culture and kitsch, as an aspect of appropriation and re-presentation, and as triggers for empathy, my approach engages with the mutability of her painted women as a performative space of fragmentation and deformation, and as a trigger for anxiety. The thesis begins by interrogating the genre of portraiture, drawing on Gadamer’s idea that the portrait is different from the copy because it proposes an “increase in being.” These ideas are joined to affect theory, to approach the artist’s work as a performative space, involving the artist’s body, the viewer’s body, and the body in the artwork. If Werner’s female subjects are represented in a state of flux, this can also be understood as a state of feminine existential negotiation. Werner’s process of formal distortion in portraiture is thus regarded as a performative act that brings the viewer into an encounter with the emotive state of anxiety.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Gagas, Andromachi
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:January 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Sloan, Johanne
ID Code:982144
Deposited On:05 Jun 2017 15:41
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:54
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