The Performative Touch: Self Performance and Landscape in Laura Aguilar's "Nature Self Portrait" Series

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Title The Performative Touch: Self Performance and Landscape in Laura Aguilar's "Nature Self Portrait" Series
Creator Allison Pinegar
Description Laura Aguilar's Nature Self-Portrait #2 (1996, 16x20 inches) (Fig. 1) is a black and; white photograph that shows Aguilar laying on her side, naked, with her back to the camera.; Aguilar's back is almost in the center of the composition and her legs jut out backwards, toward; the left, top corner of the image. Her smooth skin contrasts severely with the rough texture of the; desert ground. Three large boulders form an arch in front of Aguilar's body and a single boulder; is centered in the background. In many ways, Aguilar's body is both integrated into her; environment, taking on a similar shape and function of the rocks, and removed from the; landscape due to the juxtaposition of her smooth skin and the rough, porous texture of the; ground. She both belongs and doesn't belong. This image is one of the fourteen images in the; Nature Self Portrait series taken in the El Malapais region of western New Mexico in 1996 and; published for an exhibition in 1997 at The Armand Hammer Museum in London.1 The series; marks a shift away from Aguilar's early work with a somewhat social documentary style and; focus. While Nature Self Portrait series is not the first to use Aguilar's own body, it is her first; series shot entirely in a natural landscape. Implicit in this move to nature is an examination of; the female body in nature. In addition, with the Nature Self-Portrait works Aguilar moves away; from incorporating and representing outward, visual signifiers of race, gender, sexuality, and; other aspects of identity. Instead of confronting these issues of identity through images and text,; like she does in Latina Lesbians series (1986-89) or How Mexican is Mexican (1990), Aguilar; removes the majority of these physical clues, focusing instead solely on the visual relationship; between her body and the landscape. In this MA thesis, I will look at how Aguilar performs her; mestiza, queer, and large bodied identity in a landscape with a colonial history of conflicts; between Mexico and the U.S., and how that performance produces new meaning in that space.
Subject Art History
Creation Date 2019-05
Work ID AHP_0003
Rights ©Allison Pinegar
ARK ark:/87278/s6q576bc
Setname uu_aah_aahp
Date Created 2019-06-21
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 1429813
Reference URL
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