Art history through a queer lens - Focalization and semiotics applied to two Instagram accounts dedicated to queer art history

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för konsthistoria och visuella studier

Abstract: This thesis examines how queer art history is created through the interaction between two Instagram accounts, the art they post, and their followers. This thesis has analysed how the semiotic meaning-making construct a representation of queerness and what the effects are of a queer focalization in a social media context. This research has analysed several posts and screenshots of the Instagram accounts which includes both image and text through a theoretical lens using concepts such as focalization, narrative semiotics, and semiosis, alongside terms like discourse and representation. The analysis was methodically inspired by Stuart Hall’s distinction between discursive and semiotic approaches, and is divided into three parts. The first part applies semiotic terminology to analyse the material while the second part emulates Mieke Bal’s application of focalization. The third part concludes with an example to show how semiotics, narratology, and discourses collaborates when creating and reading queer art history. In the conclusion two outcomes are found in how meaning-making processes on Instagram constructs queer representation. Firsly, it shows how queerness is created in the meeting between the artworks and the queer observer. Secondly, the results shows how the visual discourses on Instagram influences what signs are read as queer. In examining queer focalization the results concludes that in the relationship between images, the accounts posting them, and their followers, it is the accounts that have a profound advantage in steering the queer narrative. This poses a question whether or not it should be encouraged to shepherd queer readings or if this should be questioned and considered in relation to queer discourses.

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