Negotiating the Nation: The Work of Joyce Wieland 1968-1976
Holmes, Kristy Arlene
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This thesis investigates the work of the Canadian artist and filmmaker Joyce Wieland (1930-1998) from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s in relation to its historical conditions of production and considers both her film and non-film work, including quilts, embroidery and prints. To examine these artistic media together not only provides a means to re-contextualize Wieland’s work, but rethinks disciplinary boundaries and contributes to a renovation of both art historical and filmic methods of critical inquiry. Wieland’s work from this period serves as an exemplary case study of the ways in which female artists have consistently had to negotiate contemporaneous constructions of femininity/feminism, modernity, and representation in relation to their art practice. I argue that Wieland consistently explored, through aesthetic means, the terms by which contemporary re-conceptualizations of gendered, classed, and raced identities were being defined as new national subjects within the Canadian nation-state. I begin by outlining the ways in which Wieland’s work as been constructed within the dominant narratives of Canadian art and film, and argue that the disciplines that generated them, with their formalist and textual foci, inhibit larger discussions of the historical, political and cultural contexts of Wieland’s art production. Each chapter subsequently examines an identity that emerged as a collective during the late 1960s in Canada –women, the working classes, French Canadians, and aboriginal peoples– that Wieland aesthetically explores. Through her engagement with second-wave feminism, the development of the New Left in English and French Canada, Québécois nationalism, and shifting notions of aboriginal identity, Wieland’s art production visually materializes the intersection of feminism and nationalism –discourses that were actively circulating in Canada during this period.