Radical Decadence - Excess in Contemporary Feminist Textiles and Craft

Author(s): Julia Skelly

design + technology

This pioneering book explores the notion of 'radical decadence' as concept, aesthetic and lived experience, and as an analytical framework for the study of contemporary feminist textile art. Gendered discourses of decadence that perpetuate anxieties about women's power, consumption and pleasure are deconstructed through images of drug use, female sexuality and 'excessive' living, in artworks by several contemporary textile artists including Orly Cogan, Tracey Emin, Allyson Mitchell, and Rozanne Hawksley. Perceptions of decadence are invariably bound to the negative connotations of decay and degradation, particularly with regard to the transgression of social norms related to femininity and the female body. Excessive consumption by women has historically been represented as grotesque, and until now, women's pleasure in relation to drug and alcohol use has largely gone unexamined in feminist art history and craft studies. Here, representations of female consumption, from cupcakes to alcohol and cocaine, are opened up for critical discussion. Drawing on feminist and queer theories, Julia Skelly considers portrayals of 'bad girls' in artworks that explore female sexuality - performative pieces designed to subvert and exceed feminine roles. In this provocative book, decadence is understood not as a destructive force but as a liberating aesthetic.


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This book examines works by contemporary feminist textile artists through the lens of radical decadence and proposes that this is a liberating aesthetic.

Julia Skelly teaches in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Introduction: Decadence, Feminism and "Excess" Chapter 1: Consuming Craft, Cupcakes and Cocaine: Orly Cogan, Shane Waltener and Shelley Miller Chapter 2: Pleasure Craft: Nava Lubelski, Mickalene Thomas and Shary Boyle Chapter 3: Bad Women?: Tracey Emin, Ghada Amer and Allyson Mitchell Chapter 4: "The Decaying Fabrics of Life and Death": Rozanne Hawksley's Textile Art Bibliography Index

General Fields

  • : 9781472569400
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Academic
  • : May 2017
  • : April 2017
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Julia Skelly
  • : Paperback
  • : 144