Art History Lecture | 2022 Senior Honors Thesis Colloquium

Please join the Department of Art History for the 2022 Senior Honors Thesis Colloquium on Wednesday, May 11th, 3:30–4:30pm CT via Zoom. Sarah Olk will be presenting her research project “Rethinking Queer Ambiguity in Pet Shop Boys: An Audiovisual Approach.”Bio: My name is Sarah Olk and my pronouns are she/her. I am graduating May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in History, a bachelor’s degree with honors in Art History, and a certificate in European Studies.Abstract: My senior honors thesis looks at British synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys with a focus on their visual media–packaging, performances, and music videos–in order to introduce a rethinking of queer ambiguity and queer expression that weaves through their work. To do so, I chronologically explore their career and highlight a few key works that demonstrate five distinct ways they enact a form of queer ambiguation of their presentation and how they have always been implicitly queer. By drawing attention to this, I hope to demonstrate the merits of an audiovisual analysis in what it can reveal when applied to a musical artist’s work, promote an interdisciplinary link between musicology and art history/visual studies, facilitate a reconsideration of the closet in relation to forms of expression beyond language or text, and showcase the inter-relational connection between visuals and music.This research was supported and aided by the Chipstone Foundation with the Center for Design and Material Culture’s Chipstone Summer Research Fellowship during the summer of 2021 as well as with the support of my advisor Dr. Jill Casid.