Abstract Doctoral thesis in fine art, Itay Ziv ” Disabled Art”. Escapism As Artistic Tactic This doctoral thesis in fine arts addresses the notion of “Disabled art” by developing an artistic idea of escapism and its mechanisms and tools. Investigating the nature of artistic escapism the thesis aims at producing a body of knowledge based on my own activity as a visul artist over the last 15 years – a series of steps influenced by escapist patterns of behaviour I have tried to follow. My work concerns the true ability of art to touch upon agonizing topics such as the Holocaust or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; in more abstract terms, it concerns our instability and sense of belonging in a post-traumatic reality saturated with catastrophic fears. The research focuses on topics that emerge from my artistic practice: authenticity, performativity, lack of hierarchy, anti-heroism, apathy, repetition and vulgarity. In light of these topics I deal with questions such as: What happens when art is not prepared or able to take an active stance with regard to political and social contents? What is the role of an artist when art fails in its efforts to actively engage in our reality and to reflect on it? How does art look like when the artist is simply tired? What is the role of this “disabled” art-making in today's society? In order to outline the notion of “Disabled Art”, I transform its components into various modes of escapist artistic behaviour. The art of escaping has long been practiced by performers who took bonds and cages as a challenge. Sometimes breaking away from the shackles is a way to catharsis, sometimes it is a mere survival mode. Originally the art of escaping did not feature an overt act in itself but involved instead secretly created illusions, such as a disappearance act or a transmutation. The operation of escaping includes always the danger of failure. Escape artists create an act in which they escape from difficult situations that seemingly threaten their freedom and lives. Using magic tricks and illusions, they manage to break free from the obstacles and traps in which they are imprisoned. Even if escape artists manage to leave their audience amazed and confused, their art builds on the ability to create illusions. This research builds on a correspondence between two figures: The Escapist Artist (ME) and his research. ME writes letters. Like in my previous art works the ME character is an imaginary and speculative character who’s seeking for communication. In this research the ME is corresponding with another fictitious character – his research. Their combination, Mechanism of Escapism, a basic artistic approach for creating reflection and responses, is explored in this research as an ideological, political and social default position. The Escapist Artist is a metaphorical and fictional character presented in the thesis as a ghost or a shadow symbolizing cases in which one is unable to find one's true place in the world, a place one can call HOME. An Escapist Artist is constantly on the run in the search for his own identity and roots. He keeps on seeking the place where he belongs to, but at the same time, he keeps escaping from it. This escapistic movement indicates the ways in which an artist and art relate to, and are affected by, today's historical, political and social issues. The research investigates inability in the arts through artistic acts of erasure, disappearance, denial, reluctance, disintegration, absentmindedness, and more. It analyses the artistic escapist approach as a method of expression – an artistic starting point that allows creation out of weakness, avoidance and basic survival instinct. The analysis involves constructing the identity and role of the artist in relation to the function of art today. The narrative in the written part of the thesis consists of three thematic strands: 1. The transformation process in which one becomes an escapist artist. 2. The way of learning how to cope with this situation. 3. The attempts to reach conclusions evoked by this situation.
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