PhD researcher Jules Sturm will defend her dissertation titled Bodies We Fail - Productive Embodiments of Imperfection
This study explores the productive effects of bodily 'failure' in the sphere of visuality. The main aim is to draw out and bring together seemingly contradictory or exclusionary characteristics of the human body with the help of visual reflection. Jules Sturm takes a critical, yet productive version of 'failure' as a starting point to argue for the positive transformative effects of other seemingly negative concepts around the body, such as monstrosity, vulnerability, self-loss, absence, and aging. The effects and functions of these negative concepts are reconsidered by mirroring them with their supposedly positive opposites. The mirror, metaphorically and literally, serves as a means to disrupt oppositional fixity and polarity, which commonly appear in categorisations of human bodies. With reference to the “handicaps” of vision, such as blind spots, limited perspective, framed and arrested vision, or dazzling reflection, the study aims to point to the body’s constant exposure to visual constraints and distortions, which are incorporated so strongly in everyday images of our bodies that they become invisible, while yet representative of cultural norms. Sturm traces ways of seeing in the scope of 'the dark landscape of confusion, loneliness, alienation, impossibility, and awkwardness' (J. Halberstam: Queer Art of Failure); a scope deployed by the works of critical art, queer art, and art that is as off-line and thought-provoking as the theories of the body that are developed in this study.