Leif J. Lee MFA Visual Studies Thesis 2014
This thesis explores the intersection between “queer” and “landscape.”
“Landscape” is a point positioned in the distance, that is viewed as a space that is beyond our grasp. This unreachability has provoked a longing within the human body for many years. This yearning is present in both the artistic inspiration to create landscape paintings, and in the interest to gain political control over different areas of land. The grid created by mapmakers in the early settlement of North America is used as a formal example of the heteronormative order due to its reference to binary systems, and rules.
Queer theory explores the ways in which the queer body is systematically reduced to an object within the heteronormative hierarchy. Bringing “queer” into the discussion of landscape is intended to illustrate the fact that both “queer” and “landscape” are bodies that are outside of the mainstream society and therefore dominated by oppressive power structures. Queering is the act of altering space, concepts, and experiences. To queer the heteronormative boundaries surrounding the concept of landscape would be to dismantle its association with the objectification of bodies and space. Having been moved to the outskirts of mainstream society by the dominant power, queer bodies are taking responsibility for crafting a new environment to exist within. By examining the genre of the fiber arts, traditionally practiced by female bodies, this thesis explains the process of crafting a queer landscape through contemporary art practices.