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2015 Abstracts

A Tide Just West: An Artist Book of Ecriture Féminine, Photography, and New Narrative

Thomas Aguila, University of Utah


“A Tide Just West” is a book arts project that conceptually adopts the theories of Hélène Cixous– and to an extent Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray– and concerns itself with investigating narratological schemas, as the book experimentally utilizes photographic imagery (alongside the text) to constitute a story of écriture féminine. Ecriture féminine, translated from French as “woman’s writing,” is a type of writing characterized by its tendency to subvert the narrative conventions and the pragmatism within books, poetry, language, and the genres in between. Hélène Cixous used this conceptual term in her 1975 essay, “The Laugh of Medusa,” and considered the difficulty of definitively putting into words such a category: “It is impossible to define a feminine practice of writing, and that impossibility will remain, for this practice can never be theorized, enclosed, coded.” In this project, écriture féminine takes form– and subverts form– through the book’s incorporation of photographic images. The narrative’s images act as areas that are not reliant on words but visual experiences that contradict, unify, and break apart the text alongside it. Such visual components allow new narratives to form. Instead of illustrations, the visual images act as indefinite, experiential moments for the reader to expand upon (to pass through), as the reader’s literal relationship to the characters, scenarios, and overall thematics of the book turns more toward conflicting, potent, and vague contradictions. The images fracture and destabilize the logocentrism of the book, destabilizing that expectation and faith upon the written word; they act as an in-definitude to the text, the narrative, the body, and the metaphors between the three.