Preston, Julieanna. "Blazing Interalia: Tropes of a Feminist Creative Practice.” In Feminist Practices, edited by Lori Brown, 99-122. Surry, England: Ashgate, 2011.
As a series of eight collages, BLAZE(1) draws from contemporary feminist philosophy and feminist art practice, most notably through works by Rosi Braidotti(2), Rebecca Solnit(3) and Rachel Blau DuPlessis(4). BLAZE articulates Braidotti’s literal and conceptual exploration of subjective nomadism as an itinerant migration within the political state yet securely governed by individual free will and sexual specificity. BLAZE brings numerous associative and generative relations into focus between the corporeal and sexed body including my own subjectivity towards it physicality and its cultural capacity to make and to move, and that of traversing a landscape that bears witness to the limits of wilderness. BLAZE is an attempt to (re)map the nomad as a figuration, a term Braidotti establishes as a politically informed account of an alternative subjectivity.
Given these philosophic orientations, BLAZE is constructed as an open-ended and expanded itinerary underpinned by Rebecca Solnit’s attention to the manner in which narratives structure a mindful yet wanderlust navigation of the world. I have employed Solnit’s textual conflation of space and time in a visual narrative that uses strategies of way-finding to (re)map a journey through a landscape prompted by physical, intellectual, psychological, temporal and material tropes. The eight drawings organize a reading of an actual journey through a Canadian wilderness area, and yet the calculated marking of trees is shown to multiply the possible footpaths towards and away from any specific destination. As matters of adjacency between scraps of found data detour walking/reading in a straight line, the tangential musings increase connotations between simple and every day operations such as repair and maintenance of one’s flesh, house, state and imagination. Free association aligned with mobility prompts getting lost in a genitive manner.
BLAZE’s visual expression is ode to DuPlessis’ exposition on the value of feminist writing practices. It is to this work that I credit the power of assembling fragments of images and text as a visual and exploratory language that deconstructs normative reading practices dependent on legibility, transparency and grammatical propriety. As DuPlessis pays careful attention to word choice, graphic format, voice shifts and sentence formation, BLAZE offers a textual discourse capitalizing on the surface of the drawing to prompt a performative act of reading that is non-hierarchical in nature and supportive of my concerns as a female feminist in the disciplines of art, architecture and spatial design.
(1) BLAZE (Julieanna Preston, 1994). BLAZE is one of twelve works included in an exhibition entitled “Feminist Practices” curated by Lori Brown. In addition to being publicly accessible via the exhibition website, this exhibition toured through the United States and further to Australia 2008-2010. The exhibition and its curator have been recognized by a 2009 Milka Bliznakov Women in Architecture Award.
(2) Rosi Braidotti, Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory,
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1994).
(3) Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, (New York: Viking Press, 2005).
(4) Rachel Blau DuPlessis, The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice (New York/ London: Routledge, 1990).