Gayatri Kodikal: Shapeshift: Worlding and Political Strategies of Embodiment


Advisor/tutor: Hypatia Vourloumis

July 2020


This thesis attempts to investigate elements of the age old narrative concept of the shapeshift or shapeshifting to prepare strategies for contemporary political embodiment. Shapeshifting becomes a poiesis and poetic apparatus that allows for an array of world building possibilities, playing with multiplicities and harbouring the electric charge of resistance. A recurring symbolic motif from across all cultures, and through almost all mediums of storytelling, emerging as a rhizomatic reaction with no point of origin or hierarchies, shapeshifting tells of living not only at the marginal, the threshold and liminal spaces, but also from the void of Western ontologies. In its contemporary political avatars, shapeshifting is performed within the trans*body as an anarchitectural revision, and armours the contemporary protester, digital fugitive and the stateless. The warp and weft of the thesis that weaves the shapes of each potentiality is the mangrove game world. The mangroves are a tropical rhizome species that populates the colonised world, reaching across the oceans to create a web of radical black ma(t)ter, centring the radical sexual female body, through the invocation of the mysterious tantric yogini cult that presupposes the confluence of femininity, motherhood, and materiality.