Secular séance: Post-Victorian embodiment in contemporary South African art

 

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Hamilton, Carolyn en_ZA
dc.contributor.advisor Clarkson, Carrol en_ZA
dc.contributor.advisor en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Dodd, Alexandra Jane en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2015-05-18T14:21:07Z
dc.date.available 2015-05-18T14:21:07Z
dc.date.issued 2014 en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Dodd, A. 2014. Secular séance: Post-Victorian embodiment in contemporary South African art. University of Cape Town. en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11427/12814
dc.description Includes bibliographical references. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract In this thesis I explore selected bodies of work by five contemporary South African artists that resuscitate nineteenth - century aesthetic tropes in ways that productively reimagine South Africa’s traumatic colonial inheritance. I investigate the aesthetic strategies and thematic concerns employed by Mary Sibande, Nicholas Hlobo, Mwenya Kabwe, Kathryn Smith and Santu Mofokeng, and argue that the common tactic of engagement is a focus on the body as the prime site of cognition and "the aesthetic as a form of embodiment, mode of being-in-the-world" (Merleau - Ponty). It is by means of the body that the divisive colonial fictions around race and gender were intimately inscribed and it is by means of the body, in all its performative and sensual capacities, that they are currently being symbolically undone and re-scripted. In my introduction, I develop a syncretic, interdisciplinary discourse to enable my close critical readings of these post - Victorian artworks. My question concerns the mode with which these artists have reached into the past to resurrect the nineteenth - century aesthetic trope or fragment, and what their acts of symbolic retrieval achieve in the public realm of the present. What is specific to these artists mode of "counter - archival" (Merewether ) engagement with the colonial past? I argue that these works perform a similar function to the nineteenth - century séance and to African ancestral rites and dialogue, putting viewers in touch with the most haunting aspects of our shared and separate histories as South Africans and as humans. In this sense, they might be understood both as recuperations of currently repressed forms of cultural hybridity and embodied visual conversations with the unfinished identity struggles of the artists’ ancestors. The excessive, uncanny or burlesque formal qualities of these works insist on the incapacity of mimetic, social documentary forms to contain the sustained ferocious absurdity of subjective experience in a "post - traumatic", "post - colonial", "post - apartheid" culture. The "post" in these terms does not denote a concession to sequential logic or linear temporality, but rather what Achille Mbembe terms an "interlocking of presents, pasts and futures". This "interlocking" is made manifest by the current transmission of these works, which visually, physically embody a sense of subjectivity as temporality. If the body and the senses are the means though which we not only apprehend the world in the present, but through which the past is objectively an d subjectively enshrined, then it is by means of the ossified archive of that same sensory body that the damage of the past can be released and knowledge/history re - imagined. Without erasing or denying South Africa’s well - documented history of violent categorisation, the hypothetical tenor of these works instantiates an alternate culture of love , intimacy, desire and inter - connectedness that once was and still can be. en_ZA
dc.language.iso eng en_ZA
dc.subject.other English Language and Literature en_ZA
dc.title Secular séance: Post-Victorian embodiment in contemporary South African art en_ZA
dc.type Doctoral Thesis
uct.type.publication Research en_ZA
uct.type.resource Thesis en_ZA
dc.publisher.institution University of Cape Town
dc.publisher.faculty Faculty of Humanities en_ZA
dc.publisher.department Department of English Language and Literature en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationlevel Doctoral
dc.type.qualificationname PhD en_ZA
uct.type.filetype Text
uct.type.filetype Image
dc.identifier.apacitation Dodd, A. J. (2014). <i>Secular séance: Post-Victorian embodiment in contemporary South African art</i>. (Thesis). University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,Department of English Language and Literature. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/11427/12814 en_ZA
dc.identifier.chicagocitation Dodd, Alexandra Jane. <i>"Secular séance: Post-Victorian embodiment in contemporary South African art."</i> Thesis., University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,Department of English Language and Literature, 2014. http://hdl.handle.net/11427/12814 en_ZA
dc.identifier.vancouvercitation Dodd AJ. Secular séance: Post-Victorian embodiment in contemporary South African art. [Thesis]. University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,Department of English Language and Literature, 2014 [cited yyyy month dd]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/11427/12814 en_ZA
dc.identifier.ris TY - Thesis / Dissertation AU - Dodd, Alexandra Jane AB - In this thesis I explore selected bodies of work by five contemporary South African artists that resuscitate nineteenth - century aesthetic tropes in ways that productively reimagine South Africa’s traumatic colonial inheritance. I investigate the aesthetic strategies and thematic concerns employed by Mary Sibande, Nicholas Hlobo, Mwenya Kabwe, Kathryn Smith and Santu Mofokeng, and argue that the common tactic of engagement is a focus on the body as the prime site of cognition and "the aesthetic as a form of embodiment, mode of being-in-the-world" (Merleau - Ponty). It is by means of the body that the divisive colonial fictions around race and gender were intimately inscribed and it is by means of the body, in all its performative and sensual capacities, that they are currently being symbolically undone and re-scripted. In my introduction, I develop a syncretic, interdisciplinary discourse to enable my close critical readings of these post - Victorian artworks. My question concerns the mode with which these artists have reached into the past to resurrect the nineteenth - century aesthetic trope or fragment, and what their acts of symbolic retrieval achieve in the public realm of the present. What is specific to these artists mode of "counter - archival" (Merewether ) engagement with the colonial past? I argue that these works perform a similar function to the nineteenth - century séance and to African ancestral rites and dialogue, putting viewers in touch with the most haunting aspects of our shared and separate histories as South Africans and as humans. In this sense, they might be understood both as recuperations of currently repressed forms of cultural hybridity and embodied visual conversations with the unfinished identity struggles of the artists’ ancestors. The excessive, uncanny or burlesque formal qualities of these works insist on the incapacity of mimetic, social documentary forms to contain the sustained ferocious absurdity of subjective experience in a "post - traumatic", "post - colonial", "post - apartheid" culture. The "post" in these terms does not denote a concession to sequential logic or linear temporality, but rather what Achille Mbembe terms an "interlocking of presents, pasts and futures". This "interlocking" is made manifest by the current transmission of these works, which visually, physically embody a sense of subjectivity as temporality. If the body and the senses are the means though which we not only apprehend the world in the present, but through which the past is objectively an d subjectively enshrined, then it is by means of the ossified archive of that same sensory body that the damage of the past can be released and knowledge/history re - imagined. Without erasing or denying South Africa’s well - documented history of violent categorisation, the hypothetical tenor of these works instantiates an alternate culture of love , intimacy, desire and inter - connectedness that once was and still can be. DA - 2014 DB - OpenUCT DP - University of Cape Town LK - https://open.uct.ac.za PB - University of Cape Town PY - 2014 T1 - Secular séance: Post-Victorian embodiment in contemporary South African art TI - Secular séance: Post-Victorian embodiment in contemporary South African art UR - http://hdl.handle.net/11427/12814 ER - en_ZA


Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record