Title page for ETD etd-05242011-114758

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Ramgolam, Judy
Email judyr@uj.a.za
URN etd-05242011-114758
Document Title Identity, place and displacement in the visual art of female artists at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT), 1994-2004
Degree DPhil
Department Visual Arts
Advisor Name Title
Prof J van Eeden Supervisor
  • political reading
  • landscape
  • displacement
  • place
  • identity
  • female artists
  • postcolonial
  • Vaal University of Technology
Date 2011-09-08
Availability unrestricted

The first ten years of democracy (1994-2004) in South Africa was an important period marked by a plethora of research activities in South Africa. The 2004 exhibition of artworks by academic staff from the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) was an example of one such event. A critical reading of these artworks exhibited diverse representations of their world views and also informed the initial research for this study. All the artworks on exhibition illustrated a commonality of purpose in the artistsí interrogation and representation of their fragmented identities in a transforming political landscape. Therefore, this thesis considers a political reading of the ideas of identity, place and displacement in the artworks of thirteen female artists at VUT from 1994 to 2004.

The rationale of this thesis was to examine in what way the artistsí construction and representations of identity, place and displacement were influenced by the environmental factors of the historical, political and academic culture in the microcosm of the Vaal region. However, the inclusion of Tracey Rose in this study extended the discourses of identity, place and displacement to consider the disjunctures and continuities of cultural practices in ethnicities in South Africa. This thesis furthermore proposed to address the gendered omissions of female artists from contemporary literature and therefore focuses on the creative productions of female artists from VUT. The significance of this study lies in the contribution of knowledge on the existing body of literature of art and artists in South Africa and in initiating the exercise of documenting the visual history of the Vaal region.

The theoretical underpinnings are informed by the discourses of cultural studies, postcolonial studies and feminism/s. The thesis delimits the political and historical events of South Africa from pre-history to contemporary South Africa. A postcolonial reading of history is carried out in order to draw attention to inconsistencies and fallacies inherent in the colonial recording of historical events relevant to this study. The influential historical and political events in the discourse of place and displacement have been included in view of their depiction or references made by the artists discussed in this study and to contextualise the geopolitical space of the Vaal Triangle. The political events before and after the decline of apartheid were included to frame the strategy of decolonisation of the new political dispensation. A context for the shifting identities of the artists in a neoliberal democracy, namely the political and historical events germane to the Vaal Triangle and to the artists dealt with in this study, is provided to position the ideological divide between Afrikaner nationalism and a neoliberal democracy.

The thesis provides a brief overview of South African art in order to delineate a national perspective and framework for the discussion of the artworks later in the study that are located predominantly in the Vaal Triangle. An average of three artworks per artist were selected for discussion. The selected artworks reflect heterogeneous interpretations of the discursive themes of landscape, the positions of women, shifting timelines and contemporary politics in South African social and cultural practice. There was an observable divide in the artworks that displayed explicit and implicit signifiers referring to the constructs of identity, place and displacement. Identities formed in the spaces of colonisation and in the dislocated, displaced, raced and gendered identities, inform the world views of the artists selected for this study.

© 2011, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Ramgolam, J 2011, Identity, place and displacement in the visual art of female artists at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT), 1994-2004, DPhil thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-05242011-114758/ >


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