Behind Straight Curtains Towards a queer feminist theory of architecture
Abstract: This thesis presents theatrical queer feminist interpretations of architecture staged within a series of architectural scenes: architect Eileen Gray’s building E.1027 in the south of France (1926-29); author Natalie Barney’s literary salon at 20 rue Jacob, Paris (1909-1968); and author Selma Lagerlöf’s former home and memorial estate Mårbacka, situated in mid-west Sweden and transformed between 1919 and 1923. Interpreted as queer performative acts, or enactments of architecture, these cases bring into play the interconnectedness of material container, the setting, the deeds and the actors. A broad aim of the thesis is to explore the role played by architecture in the social and cultural constructions of bodies, in particular in relation to gender and sexuality. Architecture is investigated as one of the subjectivating norms that constitute gender performativity. The thesis is thus not only about but also operates through enactment. It masquerades as a series of lectures written in the form of scripted drama. The aim of this formal experiment is not only to explicate and critique from a detached perspective but also to represent architecture in the process of being enacted. Architecture is investigated not only as a theoretical metaphor but also as a concrete material practice always entangled with subject positions. With this exploration into the queerness and the theatricality of architecture, Behind Straight Curtains seeks to affect both the analysis and enactment of architecture and contribute to an architectural shift towards a built environment that does not simply repeat repressive structures but attempts to resist discrimination and dismantle hierarchies.
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