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Alison L. Thomson

Alison Thomson is an independent artist, researcher and writer. In 2013 she completed a Master of Fine Art by research at Monash University. This project explored the potential for art practices to transform 'subjectivity' (mind, will and emotion) in conjunction with philosopher Luce Irigaray's concept of the 'sensible transcendental'. (See PDF attached below or hardcopy at Monash University library.) Irigaray argues that males and females, and the categories of the masculine and feminine, are different and equally valuable. For Irigaray 'sexual difference' is the first and foundational difference from which all other differences arise. Through her concept of the 'sensible transcendental' Irigaray aimed to elevate the sensible to the same level as the transcendent. (The 'sensible' refers to that which is perceived by the senses or the material realm. The sensible is aligned with the 'feminine' in Western metaphysics. The transcendent encompasses God, spirit, mind and intellect and it is understood as the 'masculine' in Western metaphysics). 


Alison Thomson's writing and artworks attempt to think and  symbolise a 'sensible transcendental'. Thomson developed Irigaray's 'sensible transcendental' further into an idea more akin to 'metaphysical realism' or 'real transcendence'. Thomson's central argument is that in terms of human experience, the conventional 'masculine' and 'feminine' only reflect the divine (the good or God in Christian terminology) through a 'sensible transcendental' way of being. The 'sensible transcendental' entails effort or play, along with grace, to transform categories; the subject (the 'I' or agent) can act to bring categories into relationship without collapsing the parts into an undifferentiated whole. The 'sensible transcendental', in its ideal form, can be experienced as true 'subject-hood'. In the absence of such an understanding and approach, the conventional masculine and feminine are potentially destructive (power without responsibility, instrumentalises others) and devouring (pleasure or happiness without responsibility, incorporates others). In the presence of a 'sensible transcendental' attitude and process, the masculine becomes compassion and the feminine transforms into wisdom. Thomson's art practice rests on the assumption that the creative arts can be used to support the changes outlined above. In addition to philosophy, Thomson's current research draws on native orchid conservation, Orthodox Christian art and mindfulness techniques which align with the Christian wisdom tradition.


Image: Rosella Spider Orchid - rear view, by Alison Thomson 2014. The photograph shows the flower in first bloom. *Please note all artworks, images and text included on this site are subject to copyright laws.

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