On Longing – Part Two & Three

Part Two is a gist of the latter section of the book on the souvenir and the collection.

Part Three is a reflection  on some of the ideas thrown up by this book and in my recent meeting with my studio supervisor.

“Within the development of culture under an exchange economy, the search for authentic experience, and correlatively, the search for the authentic object become critical. As experience is increasingly mediated and abstracted, the lived relation of the body to the phenomenological world is replaced by a nostalgic myth of contact and presence. “Authentic” experience becomes both illusive and allusive as it is placed beyond the horizon of lived experience, the beyond in which the antique, the pastoral, the exotic, and other fictive domains are articulated” (Stewart, 1993 p.133).

“This capacity of objects to serve as traces of authentic experience is, in fact, exemplified by the souvenir”(Stewart, 1993 p.135),  a souvenir (or artwork) is a narrative of the owners (or artists) authentic experience, “it is not a narrative of the object; it is a narrative of the possessor” (Stewart, p.136), it pertains to that particular personality.

“In contrast to the souvenir, the collection offers example rather than sample, metaphor rather than metonymy. The collection does not displace attention to the past; rather the past is at the service of the collection for whereas the souvenir lends authenticity to the past, the past lends authenticity to the collection… … the collection replaces history with classification, with order beyond the realm of temporality… …the collection is a form of art as play, a form involving the reframing of objects within a world of attention and manipulation of context” (Stewart, p. 151). “The spatial whole of the collection supersedes the individual narratives that “lie behind it”” (Stewart, p. 153).

There is a difference between a collection and an accumulation – a collection has a more formal interest and has rules that govern the collection, an accumulation is more an interest in the intrinsic qualities inherent in the objects themselves as singular objects. The collection is a complex relationship between exposure and concealment, organisation and chaos, a collection has “a containment on the level of it’s content and in it’s series” (P.161) at a certain point it is closed and finished. There is a finite number of items that it is possible to collect or own, then the rules must change or vary to expand the collection or a secondary collection must be started.

It can be hard to maintain the discipline of creating artwork only within the confines of my original data collection. I have realised that to be able to take a step up and further my work I have had to relax the rules a little and allow work to come forth that is once removed from ‘The Collection’ – work based on an idea or progression of thought from the original body of work, and also and more difficultly, once removed from my self and my value systems.

I had a great meeting with Dave (cheers Dave) on Thursday and it seemed perfectly timed as some of my work was at tipping point between falling back into what is comfortable, reiterating ideas rather than pushing outward. The work that we both deemed more successful was the work that had taken a push away from the confinement of a literal collection that had branched out, and the works that were less successful, or ideas for future work that need re-thinking, were the ones in which I was just restating an earlier theme and sticking to preconceived ideas and rules.

Thankfully (cheers again Dave), one pending work that I was planning was exposed as being just that – a re-statement of something gone before in a different media and the work will now be allowed to evolve in it’s own right, in it’s own direction, not quite following the rules, but inspired by, and slightly away from them. Time for the rules to vary and allow for expansion.

It was also the first visit from Dave to ‘The Eyrie’ of my studio and it was a big help and a change to be meeting there, not only because I didn’t have to move everything but also because I could prepare and cover the walls with ideas and mock ups for future ideas and come at the meeting from a ‘place of power’, with the works conversing across the room, with and against each other. I didn’t have to waste time gesturing wildly and trying to explain a work in the abstract, I had the time and the wall-space to actively prepare the space, and myself, including a general tidy up and the sweeping of much detritus under the rug and out of sight. 🙂




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