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ItemInvisible words: the semaphore of skinPundyk, Marysia Sofia ( 2017)In 2003, upon the death of my father, I found four letters. Three were written by my grandmother – a woman I never knew and who was rarely spoken about – and the other recounted the events that led to her deportation and death in a Soviet work camp in Siberia in the 1940s. Viewed as correspondence, as depositories of memory, as suppressed herstories, these inherited artefacts invite questions concerning language, words and images – their ability to at once reveal and obscure meaning, their power to manipulate or be manipulated by both creator and spectator. Perhaps more significantly, these artefacts, like some enigmatic umbilical cord, some sinewed, ancestral thread, urge an unforgetting and reshaping, a giving voice and material expression to that which had been previously silenced and concealed. ‘Invisible Words: the semaphore of skin’ draws on cross-disciplinary practices to articulate the impact of an inherited trauma and silenced memory. The project has at its origins these once-hidden letters, and the several photographs that accompanied them. Although these artefacts clearly expose themselves as narratives of trauma, they also reveal, in what they don’t say, a multilayered censorship. As custodial progeny of this embodied trauma, this thesis and the creative works developed seek to translate beyond the written and argue for an inhabitation of the liminal in order to articulate the impact of a previously silenced and concealed trauma. The creative component of this project has involved both studio- and field-based research and utilises the mediums of photography, video, installation, play-writing and ‘skin’ – a practice situated on the traumatic periphery inhabited by roadkill – to give material form, voice and expression to this sensorial and familial wound.
ItemBody of waterEdwards, Katherine Campbell ( 2015)Through a series of underwater video sequences, my exhibition Body of Water marked the culmination of my Masters research findings investigating the physical animation of the female body in the element of water. Using video and video stills to explore the process of thought and perception, the images trace the concept of the psyche moving between unconscious and conscious realms. The materiality of an aquatic dimension provides a suspended three-dimensional “canvas”, and womb-like space within which to construct the artworks. The accompanying written paper encompasses my research into philosophical and psychoanalytical texts, as well as feminist theory and video art, to further articulate the materials and methods used in my studio practice (and final exhibition). In the underwater filming process what becomes apparent is the potential for water to trigger both sensory and psychological notions, assisted by a dream-like sequence of the female’s journey. Dream theory is introduced as a way of understanding the unconscious process as an art practice, and the project sets out to locate its manifestation within psychosomatic experience. My art process echoes the process of dreams vaporizing from the unconscious as the camera’s blind operation first captures the imagery without judgment, before the images are later edited, layered and juxtaposed to create the work. The underwater swimmer gives further expression to symbolizing “thresholds” of outer and inner phenomenological experience. The term a “psychical interior” is used frequently to refer to metaphysical dimensions of thinking about the swimmer in water as a metaphor for the process of “unconscious” thought. Concepts derived from psychoanalytical research including a “psychical envelope” and “skin-ego”, are juxtaposed within my phenomenological descriptions of water’s materiality. The skin-ego is a concept derived from skin’s dual sensory function, that of an outer sponge and an inner perceptual matrix. The female body immersed in water has been fashioned to enable a dialogue about metaphors of feminine space and its subjectivity. I have intentionally de-identified elements of the female body to instead focus on phenomenological frameworks including the body as a “container”, and tension between the environments of skin and water in defining the self. Bringing the viewer’s awareness closer to the “lived body” experience, my project aims to invite slowness from the visitor when entering the intimacy of the womb-like projection space. The immersive, dark exhibition space enables one to encounter the dream-like nature of the underwater sequences. Water as a moving element (captured by the camera) offers a spatio-temporal dimension of time literally dissolving before the viewer. Water imagery is potent with symbolic associations to the spiritual and maternal and has the potential to arouse in the viewer anything from a reflective reverie to a deep psychological introspection.
ItemBeautiful little dead things: empathy, witnessing, trauma and animals' sufferingMOWSON, LYNN ( 2015)This sculptural practice-led research investigates empathy, trauma and witnessing and the role of testimony in visual arts practice. The thesis argues that Edith Stein’s phenomenological account of empathy articulates an empathic encounter that recognizes the alterity of the other. Stein’s account, I argue, can be drawn out to include encounters with nonhuman animals and sculptural objects that resemble embodied forms. Responding to developments in my sculptural practice the research examined the possibility of visual art practices to bear witness to the ongoing suffering of animals: marking out the possibility for sculptural objects to perform as testimonial objects. As testimonial objects they attest to the trauma of the one who witnesses for the other. Ethical considerations in relation to materiality, representation and the position of one who testifies for, or on behalf of, the other are examined.