Self-portraiture: on photography’s reflexive surface
This exposition deals with narcissism, narrativity, self-portraiture, and photography. It illustrates a practice-based research project instigated in 2007 that aims to decode and recover narcissism as a useful sense-making scenario or system. This approach can help make sense of photography and self-portraiture in the present, and can be employed in the development of visual strategies in photographic self-portraiture.
Here I present the practical work that was produced and the theory that influenced my practice: namely, the revaluation of the relationship between self-portraiture and narcissism, and ideas from the semiotics of photography and narrative theory. The three main sections of the exposition illustrate the chronological development of my work, and each section is divided into two parts.
The first part of each section presents the practical work, whereas the second part illustrates the theoretical aspect of this project, which stems from a wish to reflect on my own art practice and increase my understanding of self-portraiture, while also interrogating narrative codes and devices in photography, such as the double, mise en abyme, and mirroring structures, and their association with narcissism. Drawing on psychoanalytic theory, semiotics, and narratology, I argue that narcissism in self-portraiture can simultaneously represent an imaginary withdrawal of the artist, a structure within the work, and a vehicle for narrativity. By eluding structured language systems, narcissism provides a vocabulary for narrativising procedures, as well as meeting the artist’s/viewer’s modes of engagement.
These ideas informed the practical component of the research project and provided the basis for a number of visual strategies employed in the development of the photographic self-portraits that are presented in the second part of each section. In these sections, I also explain the different strategies adopted in producing my images: the role of codes, narrative devices, layering, and reframing for understanding the density of an image and its inherent narcissism. In the process I propose that narcissism should receive a much more central role in the consideration of images and the way they communicate with a contemporary audience.
Colonial hospitality: rethinking curatorial and artistic responsibility
Danny Butt, Local Time
The recent enthusiasm for gestures of hospitality in contemporary art promises relief from the individualising forces of neoliberal capitalism and the professionalised hierarchies of the art world. Yet, Jacques Derrida describes the gesture of hospitality as paradoxically asserting a kind of sovereignty that underwrites the 'right to host', returning hospitality to the conditionality of the authorising institution. In settler-colonial territories, these institutionally underwritten gestures always sit uneasily atop indigenous sovereignties that have not been ceded, requiring the positive gestures of hospitality to remain open to their structuring fissures. This paper considers figurations of hospitality and responsibility in works by Derrida, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Raqs Media Collective in reading the art collective Local Time’s research-driven practice that seeks to reconcile indigenous self-determination and settler gestures of hospitality.
Christopher Lee Kennedy
This exposition considers the use of mycology and chance operation as a method and material for arts-based research. The exposition details a series of mushroom hunting excursions designed to engage four artist-teachers in collaborative dialogue about their practice and identity. As participant and researcher converse, the hunts unfold as dérive-like encounters with a landscape interrupted through chance and embodied experience. The project draws from the work of artist and composer John Cage, who used fungi and mushroom hunting as one of many devices for exploring sound and its relationship to environment. Contextual research and documentation offer a glimpse into this process, while considering unstructured, kinetic, and uncertain ways of knowing in qualitative and arts-based research. The aim is to explore mycology as a post-formal lens for understanding the pedagogical and creative practices of the artist-teacher as a networked, fluid, and relational system.
The Fourth Wall of Architecture
Bart L. Decroos
This work is an attempt to combine the fields of architecture, critical theory, and literature. It deals with the question of how an architectural artefact develops its meaning within a larger discourse through its image, and how this relates to the everyday life of the physical space of the artefact.
The work has been developed by translating certain theoretical ideas to a fictional setting in order to explore these ideas through the medium of literature. The theoretical starting point thus takes on the form of characters, dialogues, and events within a specific architectural environment in an attempt to relate these diverse ideas to one another and to the physical space. The resulting short stories have then been translated to images of physical spaces, which try to detect these theoretical ideas on the level of the space itself.
The complete work comprises three short stories, each dealing with a different type of architecture: the single-family house, the hotel room, and the office space.
Palestinian Wildlife Series: embodiment in images, critical abstraction
Rania Lee Khalil
The expanded cinema performance ‘Palestinian Wildlife Series’ parallels posthuman and postcolonial circumstance, using appropriated imagery of African animals shot directly from a television set in Palestine.
Chronicling the experimentation and process that went into this work of ‘animal-video choreography’, the author interweaves research on Palestine, materialist film, and Afrofuturist thought. The exposition reflects on the impact upon Khalil’s work of women performance artists and avant-garde jazz musician Sun Ra, presenting a journey from text-based and signifier-heavy early experiments to the wordless and open-ended cinematic outcome the author comes to defend.
Drawing on her transition from live performance to moving image production, this exposition will interest those concerned with interdisciplinarity and embodiment in digital imagery. It examines alternative modes of art activism and political uses of abstraction and experimentalism in art, specifically where critical ethnic and postcolonial studies are concerned. It supports discussions of rights and representation within artistic research and beyond from a diasporic perspective.
Notes on Red76's Occupy Yr. Home
Heath Schultz, Samuel Gould
'Place setting: notes on Red76's Occupy Yr. Home' is a collaborative piece of writing between Heath Schultz and Sam Gould, primary organiser of the artist group Red76. The piece doubles as a critical review of the Red76 project 'Occupy Yr. Home' – a facilitated conversation in a participant's home around the themes of occupation and the domestic sphere. The text explores problems that plague much participatory art and social practice. Unique to this piece of writing is a parallel conversation (played out in the footnotes) in which Sam responds to Heath's review, offering anecdotes, clarifications, and thoughts. The dialogue within the footnotes suggests divergent viewpoints from the 'authoritative text'. In this way, the experimental form of the piece struggles with the important question of how different experiences of the same event can texture and complicate discourses around participatory art.