REFEREED JOURNAL ARTICLES
The Domestic Residue: Feminist mobility and space in Simryn Gill’s art
Gender, Space Culture: A Journal of feminist geography, (United Kingdom) pp.1-21; print edition: Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 19, No. 6 (2012): 750-70.
Feminism, now nearly half a century old, is still fractured by two divisive forms – the desire to emancipate women from masculinist power structures, and the affirmation of woman's sexual difference. However, as Teresa de Lauretis and Gillian Rose argue, for feminism to remain relevant, it must also be attentive to the fluid hegemonic conditions of power, and thus, strive to evolve new ‘forms’, which emphasize feminism's political mobility. Developing this proposition, this article discusses how a new critical feminist mobility may be detected in the work of Sydney-based Malaysian artist Simryn Gill. Born in Singapore in 1959, and hailing from a migrant Punjabi family who first settled in Malaya in the 1920s, Gill constantly travels between her home in Sydney and her family bungalow in Port Dickson, a small coastal town in Malaysia. I will discuss how Gill's feminist perspective may be mapped through the artist's shifting spatial contexts by looking at three spaces – the gallery, the domestic interior and the tropics. Through these spaces, I will explore how the artist occupies the dual roles of ‘woman’ and ‘women’, thus demonstrating the changing and fluid energy of a mobile feminist stance. Gill's art valorizes the domestic sphere as a recurring theme with this subject being central to her self-definition in the public sphere. Yet, her treatment of domesticity is distinct in its furtiveness, a tactic, which I argue, enables a feminist agency that is politically mobile, and capable of engaging issues of gender, sexuality, race, class and citizenship.