This research project is an interdisciplinary enquiry of art practice and theory into the spectre of violence in contemporary art practice. It explores the relationships between selected art practice, including my own, and the concepts of key theorists who attempt to define notions of spirit, spectre, haunting and aesthetic experience.
Central to the investigation is Jacques Derrida’s writing and concept of Hauntology. Through critical reading I interpret Hauntology as a spectral language, a way of thinking about and a stance towards understanding cultural caesuras and aporias attributed to the effects of violence, conflict and war. The research examines how the notions of spectre and haunting appear to intervene in societies as ethical spectralities in art, literature, films, television and forms of technology.
I explore spectrality’s historic presence and its hidden essence (Geist) that through my own art practice and image making I attempt to materialise aesthetically. To frame the concepts, ideas and discoveries I use Derrida’s returning presence (his words, ideas and influences) in my research text as a structure for my arguments. The research analyses critically and tests theoretically whether the Hauntological notions I discovered, such as doubling, returning and fragmenting, etc., have significant powers for the interpretation of the case studies of three important contemporary artists, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, Francis Bacon, and my own art practice. It investigates and questions also if the critical accusation of the ‘aestheticisation’ of violence, often set against certain practices, has alternative meanings that sublimate and rationalise ethically the practice as a positive gesture.
The research is presented as a package consisting of a research text, five books, two videos, and Practice Notes.
PhD conferred January 2019.
Current Research: the cultural and social effects of COVID-19 examined through an analysis of, and art practice response to, present and historical media, literature and film representations.
For further information see: https://kenclarry.co.uk