Currently based in Auckland , New Zealand I completed my undergraduate studies in 1991 at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Australia and gained an MFA (1st class honours) at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 2002. in 2021 I completed a PhD at Massey University, Toi Rauwhārangi College of Creative Arts, under the supervision of Martin Patrick, Heather Galbraith and Huhana Smith.  I am a Fine Arts lecturer in the undergraduate program at Whitecliffe in Auckland.

My research is situated in relation to current posthumanist theory, which posits horizontal rather than hierarchical relationships for human/nonhuman cohabitation, my research sets out to test the hypothesis that experiential and participatory art practices can engender new understandings of the everyday relationship of domestication as a site of human/nonhuman interaction.  It poses the question; can a practice of unsettling and reframing familiar scenes of domestication elicit understanding that is critical, embodied, imagined and conducive to the notion that humans and nonhumans might coexist on a levelled platform of being? This research posts and set out to test the veracity of a working methodology that deliberately cultivates a hopeful space for imagining and feeling, in tandem with intellectual and informational research. This is a working hypothesis in two parts; firstly, navigating a methodology through which to nurture re-imaging; a research practice I propose as a receptive space of unknowing, A term I call into play to define the ‘mindful fostering of a practice of durational, conceptual and intellectual holding-back from familiar ways of perceiving’.

The title of my PhD thesis is Between Elsewhere and Away: small acts of cohabitation. It traces five years of reimagining, and inviting others to reimagine suburban cohabitation. Over this time I have become sensitive to the agency and energetic being of all things, animal, vegetable and mineral. Through the process of attending with receptive care to daily activities, my human-centered sense of normal is continually re-calibrated as the physical and energetic boundaries self and other become increasingly porous.

PhD citation: The research field of creative participatory practice provides a practical and experimental lens through which to re-examine ecological discourse within the colonised landscape of Aotearoa, New Zealand. This lens of ecological discourse is less frequently focused on the suburban environment. Sorensen has developed imaginative strategies of shared agency and collaboration within suburban cohabitation to enact an effective shift from the Western perception that suburban life is alienated from its surrounding natural environment. Sorensen’s cross-species, multi-entity research, dialogical interactions and object-oriented participatory events contribute towards the practical and conceptual reframing of contemporary suburban life, extending and articulating a greater awareness of our radical entanglement with nature. In delineating a multimodal, post-anthropocentric research territory located at the nexus where participatory practice, care, non-naïve localism and suburban cohabitation meet with social aesthetics and new materialist approaches, Sorensen’s research offers new perspectives on ecology, human being and agency.

you can view the full thesis here: Jill Sorensen, Between Elsewhere and Away: Small Acts of Cohabitation


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