Warped Mirrors: Contemporary Representation of Women on Screen

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Feminist art practices have been challenging the misrepresentation of women in mainstream media and technology since the 1960s. Performing to camera and creating video installations gave artists power to subvert visual mediums and challenge conventional modes of viewing bodies on screens. With the introduction of Web 2.0 and self-representation practices such as selfies and vlogging becoming everyday activities, women have had more control over how their image is presented in public. However social media spaces are not neutral spaces and at times regulate and privilege visibility of certain ‘types’ of female subjects that are aligned with stereotypical images of feminine beauty. This thesis examines the performance of postfeminist subjectivities on social media and considers these performances to be perpetuating notions of control, agency and authenticity that are tied to gendered, racialised and classed norms of femininity. This investigation looks at how social networks regulate these gender performances and within these contexts notions of agency and authenticity may be implied but can never fully be achieved. This thesis critically examines feminist art practices, by way of case studies and my own practice, that infiltrate these platforms and perform these gendered norms as acts of subversion. I specifically focus on how the artworks are experienced and read through the varied contexts and temporalities they are presented in, seeking to find instances of subversion and control. These practices are explored in relation to theories of subjectivity, performance and installation art, and interactivity. This emerging form of feminist art practice on social media is a relatively new field. I propose that my theoretical and practice-based research contributes to understanding the complexities involved in attempting to uncover how social networks perpetuate postfeminist notions of agency and authenticity due to the nature of self-produced content and the temporal and contextual conditions of spectatorship. Through this thesis I propose that my practice develops an alternative strategy to performing subjectivity on social media where it explicates the construction of a fragmented and contradictory subject through strategies of liveness, duration and interactivity
Date of AwardMay 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorSuzanna Chan (Supervisor) & Cherie Driver (Supervisor)


  • Feminist Art
  • Postfeminism
  • Social Media
  • Performance Art
  • New Media Art
  • Internet Art
  • Cyberfeminism
  • Installation Art
  • Screen
  • Selfie

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