Fideelia-Signe Roots “Naine kui kangelane” (Dissertationes 24)

Fideelia-Signe Roots’s artistic research “Naine kui kangelane” (“Woman as a Hero”) deals with rethinking gender roles and the image of Soviet-era female tractor drivers. It asks how we can interpret a woman as a hero in a society that sees women rather in the role of victims, avoiding her objectification and oversexualization. The author applies both artistic practices and qualitative research methods. The dissertation includes, among other things, case studies of tractor driver, combine harvester and work hero Elmina Otsman and bodybuilder and amazon Maria Wattel, with the help of which the self-reflection of a woman as a hero is observed and hitherto unknown aspects in this field are discovered. The author discusses his three thematic solo exhibitions, reveals the background behind the works and observes the ways of using historical materials in artistic practice. On the mythological level, the focus is on Amazons and giants, on the everyday level, female tractor drivers are work heroes. Although the role of women is changing over time, and in the Soviet period the dominant female image was the work hero, women have not yet freed themselves from the gender division of labor in the private sphere. In the study, the need for women to maintain their femininity “no matter what” and to justify their actions while working in a field considered masculine was highlighted. At the same time, the strong desire of women to be better than men in the so-called male profession and the mission to encourage other women to independence and the courage to work in the field of their choice even if it is considered masculine was evident. Society reproduces the thought pattern that women are not equal to men, but the more women are given a voice and listened to, the faster the snowball starts rolling until it becomes an avalanche called “women’s history” and women are seen as inspirational heroes.

Supervisors: Prof. Tiina Ann Kirss, Prof. Katrin Kivimaa
Consultant: Prof. Marko Mäetamm
External Reviewers: Reet Varblane, Eve Annuk, Barbi Pilvre, Margus Ott
Opponent: Eve Annuk

Copy editor (Estonian): Kaidi Saavan
Copy editor (English): Ulvi Haagensen
English translation: Prof. Tiina Ann Kirss, Fideelia-Signe Roots
Graphic design: Stuudio Stuudio

Dissertationes Academiae Artium Estoniae 24
183 pages, in Estonian, with an English summary
Estonian Academy of Arts, 2017

ISBN 978-9949-594-45-0
ISSN 1736-2261

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Posted by Neeme Lopp