Person/ne: writing and curating vulnerability in the public sphere

Baldissera, Lisa. 2021. Person/ne: writing and curating vulnerability in the public sphere. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

To be embodied is to be vulnerable. At any point, one can fall sick, be injured, be disappointed, have one’s heart broken, fall out of love, be left at the roadside or be tossed in a rogue wave when one was expecting to swim on through. One can fail to be heard, understood, cared for, held or accepted, and ultimately one will fail altogether, to die. How then can one think, speak and be with others and take action within this world, despite these risks? What forms of life, of enlivened being, are possible within this inescapable vulnerability? How are they enacted within the public sphere, and with others? This thesis enfolds and examines these experiences within a paratactical and interdisciplinary methodology, through fiction and storytelling, curatorial work and reflective writing, to ask, how can we be vulnerable within the public sphere? And how can one be both a political and vulnerable body? Further, how is a resilient subject cultivated, as one who can remain vulnerable in the public sphere?

In addressing these questions, the thesis mobilises three areas of inquiry: curatorial projects, reflective critical writing, and creative writing. The thesis thus comprises three component parts that relate equally: (i) curatorial projects, including an exhibition project titled Convoluted Beauty: In the Company of Emily Carr; an art writing symposium titled Never the Same: what (else) can art writing do?; and a final exhibition project, Person/ne; (ii) reflective critical writing, in which aspects of the curatorial projects are mobilized in three reflective writing chapters which consider the work of three writers: Emily Carr, Chris Kraus and Lisa Robertson; (iii) a collection of short stories entitled Dead Peasant that engages imagination and detail to cultivate an understanding and empathy that might otherwise be neglected, and to employ observation in fiction as a form of power.

These three distinct but related areas of practice are crucial in investigating vulnerability within public life since, as the thesis progresses, the figures of artist, curator and writer become enjoined, their convergence marking a point of entry into the public sphere: 1. The figure of the artist as curated by the curator, 2. The figure of the curator as told by the storyteller and 3. The figure of the storyteller as written by the artist/art writer. The thesis sections thus work cumulatively to address the following phases: entry into the public sphere (Arendt, 1958; Cavarero, 2000); vulnerability and precarity as pressures which inform public life in art contexts (Belcourt, 2019; Butler, 2016; Feher, 2009; Rankine, 2014; Sharpe, 2016; Tiqqun, 1999); refusal/non-productivity; shame, resistance; bullying/troublemaking (Ahmed, 2010); retreat; compassion and knowledge experienced as affect and emotion (Berlant, 2011; Ngai, 2005); and finally, collaboration, community and ethics of care (Reckitt, 2016), and how a resilient subject emerges from these forces and gestures. Throughout, the thesis employs and examines forms of memoir, poetry, art writing and fiction as storytelling practices to explore what writing and language can do (Robertson, 2012; Riley, 2000), and how these might inform art and curatorial practices, working in public and with vulnerability as a form of political agency.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00030428

Additional Information:

Third-party copyright material has been removed from the Supplemental Material: Dead_Peasant_PART_III.

Keywords:

curating; art writing; vulnerability; short stories; fictioning and curatorial work; EmilyCarr; Lisa Robertson; Chris Kraus

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Art

Date:

30 June 2021

Item ID:

30428

Date Deposited:

16 Aug 2021 13:20

Last Modified:

17 Aug 2021 03:45

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/30428

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