Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Exploring materiality and how we’re inextricably entangled with it, this thesis dive into bodily, aqueous, and political engagements for dissolving the human project of separating nature from culture and bodies from environments. This dematerialization practice driven by discursive means has served as an excuse for the industrial exploitation and abuse of the less seen.
Infused by the material turn in feminist theory, I propose to think with materiality in all its wet, slimy, and dusty ongoingness as a way to craft from the living and dying processes that we embody as current wanderers among contamination, scarcity, and ruins.
Proposing a conceptual move, from the surface to the muddy bottom, I embark a submersion between folds of biological and historical depth. Recalling our common bacterial past, I start with Lynn Margulis's symbiotic theory of cell evolution and the porous dynamics of interaction among bodies, species, and environments through the concept of “transcorporeality” developed by Stacy Alaimo.
Descending from the microbial perspective of evolution, I extend my analysis into the vastness of the modern sea and the scattered sources of freshwater of the planet. By casting the ocean as the water’s depth, and freshwater as the commodification of this medium/material, I point out in how ignoring the agency of watery assemblages -and of nonhuman subjects in general- has been a major obstacle for creating a common ecological awareness and sensibility that allows us to coexists in more sustainable and ethical ways. Being drifted by transformative and non-hierarchical flows, I channel my stream of thoughts and pour them into a vessel for microbial, chemical, decorative, and multi-species collaboration. This artificial and biotic environment is an aquarium, my particular aquarium tank located in my studio at Rhode Island School of Design, and which I argue is not just a miniature representation of the sea, but a reflection of our daily interaction as porous beings embedded within an environment that bathes on the impacts of our material actions.
Burmann Littin, Elizabeth, "Madrepora" (2020). Masters Theses. 505.
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