Feeding Feminism: Gendered Consumption in Contemporary Art

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Feldman, Dana
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University of Guelph

This thesis paper will analyze the ways in which contemporary artists are using food to enact and represent their performative agency. In doing so, artists demonstrate the unique relationships between women and food as a result of normative femininity, and the dangerous corporeal effects femaleness enforces upon women. I argue that by eroticizing food and its consumption in visual culture, artists subversively exhibit acts of resistance against female gender norms and reclaim the relationship between femininity and (eating) food. Theorist Judith Butler first analyzed the construction of gender through performative acts in her 1990 book Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. In this text, Butler challenges the formation of subjectivity through socially constructed and instituted gender confines. I elaborate her theories through my analysis of the practices of portraiture and self-portraiture by Chloe Wise, Stephanie Sarley, Amanda Kung, Emily Eveleth, Theresa Newsome, Lee Price, Roxana Halls, and Sarah Bahbah using food to exemplify gender as an act repeated into normativity.

feminism, gendered consumption, contemporary art