home   |  projects  |  essays  | publications  |  biography  | contact


A selection of published essays by Ruth Jones are available as PDF's. Copyright Ruth Jones. Please acknowledge the use of these texts using their full title, author Ruth Jones, date and this site:


Title: Becoming-hysterical, becoming-animal, becoming-woman in The Horse Impressionists     2003

Wordcount: 7000

This text presents a reading of Lucy Gunning's video work The Horse Impressionists (1994), in which five women are filmed whilst neighing like a horse. I will suggest that while this artwork comes dangerously close to reconfirming traditional Western beliefs that women are closer to the animal kingdom, and more prone to hysterical mimetic identification, it also raises questions about the extent to which contemporary art practices can stimulate and manifest 'becoming'. By deconstructing traditional psychoanalytic accounts of subjectivity, I will explore the interface between two concepts of becoming; Luce Irigaray's and Deleuze / Guattaris' in relation to The Horse Impressionists. I will propose that Gunning's video opens possibilities for art practices to work towards corporeal philosophies which pay attention to gendered embodied subjectivity. Philosophies such as these employ mimetic identification strategically and recognise that bodily 'symptoms' have validity in and for themselves and need not always be translated into sequential language frameworks.

Published by Intellect in the Journal of Visual Art Practice JVAP 3:2 Click here to go to JVAP on the Intellect website

Download as PDF

Title: Between a flashing star and a gravestone: sleepers, liminality and communal dreaming    2004

Wordcount: 7350

This essay explores the reclining and displayed feminine body in western culture, taking as s starting point the displayed body of Rosalia Lombardo in the crypt of the Capuccini Monastery in Palermo. Her body could be seen to be endlessly occupying a liminal realm, a transitional state between this world and the next, between life and death, between awake and asleep. This position banishes her to a no-man’s land, caught ‘between a flashing star and a gravestone’. The evocative figure of the ‘sleeper’ within western culture is almost invariably represented through a feminine body. By exploring fairy stories such as ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Snow White’, tales of the perfectly preserved bodies of Catholic saints such as St. Cecelia, St. Catherine and St. Clare and the eighteenth century obsession in art and literature with the theme of ‘death and the maiden’, I hope here to unravel the complex associations between femininity, passivity, liminiality, sexuality and death and attempt to reconfigure the sleeper in a more positive light. The collaboration between Tilda Swinton and Cornelia Parker in ‘The Maybe’ at the Serpentine Gallery, London in 1994 serves as a contemporary model for exploring the potential of the sleeper as a vehicle for communal dreaming.

Published on the AHRB funded website Imaginal Regions

Download as PDF

Title: Neither fused nor rejected      2005

Wordcount: 7300

This essay was written for the publication edited by Ruth Jones and Ursula Burke to contextualise the exhibition And the One Doesn’t Stir without the Other curated for the Ormeau Baths Gallery in 2003. The exhibition explored feminine desire and female genealogy and included the work of artist Claude Cahun, Helen Chadwick, Ana Mendieta, Hannah Wilke, Jananne Al-Ani, Lucy Gunning and Sandra Johnston.

'And the One Doesn't Stir without the Other', the title of an essay by the French philosopher Luce Irigaray, explores the complexities of mother-daughter relationships in patriarchal societies, but it could also be seen to address the need to conceive of the desire of the feminine 'Other'. This essay explores the possibilities for a feminine 'becoming' through visual art practices that approach the question of feminine desire and its fulfilment. Irigaray has proposed that western culture is in the service of one phallocentric symbolic order, in which the feminine is positioned as lacking. The essay explores connections between the works in the exhibition, including the risks that the artists have been prepared to take in order to express feminine desire. Many of the works appear to initially comply with traditional / patriarchal stereotypes of femininity, but through a number of strategies subvert the Law of the Father and explore the potential for an economy of desire that allows positive expression to the feminine.

Published in And the One Doesn't Stir without the Other. The book can be purchased from the website

Download as PDF