Constructing Resistance Negotiations of Femininity, Race and Age in Swedish Visual Arts Education

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Maria Eriksson


The following paper discusses a paradox in Swedish schools: while a norm critical perspective more commonly is implemented in school settings by a growing number of teachers, many classrooms remain color mute. However, the active effort to keep the race issue silenced confirms its very importance (Castagno 2008). Based on ethnographic fieldwork at an upper secondary school with a national Visual Arts program, I video recorded a group of pupils working with an art film assignment. The theme for the task was “power and resistance”, and the pupils selected a non-white, feminine body in order to represent the position of the subordinate. I examine how femininity and sexuality are performed and encouraged to be negotiated and problematized in formal education, how inequalities are both reproduced and challenged. Challenged in the informal settings, when the pupils play around in pauses, imitating vampires or Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Reproduced in formal settings when teachers interact - or when the camera is recording. But at the same time as the pupils perform these subject positions there is something more going on; a hint of something unspoken that participants still assign significance. There seems to be aspects of the visualization of bodies that may not be articulated in words, but still is employed as a resource when pupils uses their own bodies and appearance to create an aesthetic utterance about subordination. Thus, I analyze how gender, sexuality and race interact as discursive and aesthetic practices, in some young people's visual arts assignment.

Key words: aesthetics, art education, femininity, race, subjectivity

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How to Cite
Eriksson, M. (2019). Constructing Resistance. Educare - Vetenskapliga Skrifter, (4), 42-75.