Doctor of Philosophy
Art and Visual Culture
Novels written by women authors who don’t adhere to the classification “visual artist” are nonetheless gaining momentum in today's contemporary art world. Yet works by authors such as Chris Kraus or Catherine Millet are often not recognized as artist’s novels because their authors are not or/and do not consider themselves to be visual artists. I contend that we can usefully situate their work within the genre of the artist’s novel by addressing how they invent artistic postures and artistic alter-egos within the autofictional worlds of their texts. My dissertation The Simultaneous Book proposes to open up the definition of the artist’s novel to include novels written by woman writers whose practice can be situated at the intersection of conceptual writing, performance art, and autofiction.
The Simultaneous Book investigates how certain novels written by women authors who have been, historically, refused classification within the tradition of “serious literature,” can now be embraced under the rubric of the “artist’s novel.” I contend that these “artist’s novels” grow out of an understanding of the practice of art writing as écriture féminine. Thus, in The Simultaneous Book, the category of the “artist’s novel” and the practice of art writing as women’s writing both function as a sort of refuge for formerly marginalized literary practices, while pointing subtly towards the changing role of patriarchy in the literary and artistic fields.
Summary for Lay Audience
My dissertation, The Simultaneous Book, is an inquiry into the artist’s novel, a sub-category of the artist’s book, and its recent emergence in the contemporary art scene. More specifically, I look at the novelistic production of women artists and authors that can simultaneously be considered a literary and visual art object. Through my fieldwork, I came to witness a specific overlap between the literary and visual arts scene where women visual artists and writers who performatively embody their novels gather together to form a secret society that makes writing and performance a space of visibility for women’s voices.
The Simultaneous Book is a discussion of the many occurrences of this secret society that includes seminal historical female figures in literature and visual arts as well as emerging contemporary artists. The Simultaneous Book thus maps a network of influences between feminist artists and authors. In fact, my dissertation aims at contextualizing “art writing” within a feminist framework. Through my research, I have come to believe that feminism is taking over the contested notion of art writing. The emergence of a generation of young women art writers, for whom a hybrid practice of performance art and creative writing embodies the tenets of écriture feminine, potentially marks the culmination of the most substantial contributions to the field of art writing. Over the years, international debates around the discipline have advanced contextualizing efforts that were all very diverse, if not divergent at times. Yet, at the forefront of art writing we find notable woman writers, such as Chris Kraus and Maria Fusco, who are setting the terms of the discipline by rendering “writing as a visible practice.” These women writers and artists' practice all converge to suggest a definition of art writing as an autonomous, feminist praxis within the field of visual culture.
Lariviere, Maryse, "The Simultaneous Book: Women's Writing in Contemporary Art" (2019). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6793.