Textuality, Forms of ‘Reading’, and the Encounter of Art

Harris, Rebecca M.. 2017. Textuality, Forms of ‘Reading’, and the Encounter of Art. Other thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This MPhil explores the materiality and non-materiality of art and how this relates to our interpretation in relation to subject and object. It focuses on the visual and the non-visible elements of artworks, considering the conditions and the pre-conditions of the gaze, and its relevance in the moment of perception. Approaching authors in art theory and beyond, writing is discussed as theoretical, fictional and biographical when engaging with the art practices of Gerhard Richter and Hanne Darboven.

If the visual does not exist independently, beyond or outside of language, then the visible and the image that art can render, comes as a consequence of being in language. The activity of writing can be used as an instrument to re-approach and re-contextualise the activity of looking at art. It can open dialogues on the spaces between collective and personal thinking and how one relates to this in a creative practice. To engage with our own experiences and cross between the threshold of specific and universal interpretation.

The conceptual and making process might be informed by cultural and historical narratives, intellectual and emotional experiences. Our interpretation is embedded in these sources of understanding. This thesis looks at the practices of non-Jewish German artists, born during World War II, informed by my specific experience of art and reading, with reference to what can be described as a ‘Jewish methodology’ of thinking. I act within the parameters of art theory, subverting this engagement through different literary and non-literary forms. I take a situated approach to consider the artists’ practices, drawing out the implications of my practical experience to think about the organisation and application of materials, to highlight the artist’s activity of thinking through the making process.

Item Type:

Thesis (Other)

Identification Number (DOI):



Contemporary Art, Art History, Jewish History and Culture, Hermeneutics, Literary Theory, Gerhard Richter, Hanne Darboven, Hélène Cixous, Georges Didi-Huberman

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



30 June 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Jul 2017 11:54

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:49



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