Tara James Power is a visual artist from Co Wexford, utilising the body in performance, moving image, photography, and installation. Their work deals with queer identity and their upbringing in rural Ireland, exploring agricultural lifestyles, industrial materials, and rural landscapes from a "culchie queer" perspective. Tara James has exhibited in several group shows, including an end-of-year show in Gorey School of Art (2018), Claque, The Creative Hub, Wexford (2018), New Translations IADT student exhibition at IMMA (2019), Afterthought, United Arts Club (2020), Let’s Take This Offline, Gothenburg, Sweden (2021), and Propositions, IADT (2022).
Tara James investigates industrial labour in relationship to masculinity, rural living and queer identity. Their project is driven by self-determination and the refusal to be undermined by Irish cultural ideals of masculinity, which are often framed by participation in hard physical labour. In response to their own words, thoughts, and memories, they write poetry and combine text with archival images in order to generate performative ideas. The artist pushes the limitations of their body in order to demonstrate queer exhaustion - the experience of having to prove yourself, your identity, and your abilities in spite of gendered assumptions and expectations. They use their own body as a tool to explore these concepts, and respond to disregarded materials found on their father's worksite (aka the back garden). By interacting with materials, such as timber posts, wooden palettes, and steel wire mesh, their body becomes a site of resistance.
This thesis attempts to understand the relationship between feminism and queer theory through an analysis of visual and performance art. It looks at how specific artists from the 1970’s until present used the body as a tool for social and political resistance against oppressive power systems. Biological essentialism, and notions of "the ideal woman" are explored, aswell as the emergence of intersectional feminist art that addressed race, class, gender, and sexuality. The relationship between androgyny and queerness is contemplated through the work of gender-nonconforming artists, and the way that they understand and display their own bodies in their art practices.