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Intimacy and Immensity A Practice-led Explo of People and Place

MacKinnon-Day, P (2017) Intimacy and Immensity A Practice-led Explo of People and Place. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

The core research question is: Can an auto-ethnographic approach to inquiry inform a creative process leading to an addition to knowledge? My five case studies examine my work as an artist, auto-ethnographer and storyteller who, through a range of research processes and creative installations in non-art sites, makes visible cultural landscapes that are ordinarily hidden. These case studies reflect on practitioners such as Georges Perec, Walter Benjamin, the Arte Povera movement, The Artists Placement Group (APG) Cornelia Parker, Jannis Kounellis and Richard Wilson. The aims of my research practice are to: • produce art that brings apparently uneventful and overlooked aspects of lived experience into visibility. • record ordinary lives in their everyday places for people to see now and in the future. • excavate a site-specific place through its physical, historical, psychological, social, and political contexts taking into consideration the aspects of time within the minutiae of everyday life. • interrogate, examine and create ideas for artworks in places where art is not normally practiced or seen. Whilst my methodology of working within a site is often slow and undramatic, a meticulous approach is essential, in that it allows me as an artist to develop a respect for both people and place and to illuminate the realities of everyday experience. I use the word ‘palimpsest’ to describe my process of excavating and investigating multiple layers of a place over a significant period of time. The element of time in my work is crucial regarding the autobiographical; from the historical to the contemporary; researching a place; embedding myself within a place; making the work and writing about the work after it is completed. All these different elements, which I have a strong connection to are important to my work. Time and loss are key concepts in analysing and understanding the subtext of my research and outcomes. The thinking within this text draws upon theoretical sources including Lucy Lippard’s idea of ‘weaving lived experiences’ within the ‘subject of place’ Lippard (1997), Paul Virilio's study of the ‘infra-ordinary’ and Warwick’s reflections on artists engaged with communities and Goffman's ethnographic study of asylums. Certain aspects of my methodology are borrowed from the practice of auto-ethnographers who use personal experience to examine and critique life experiences that confront pressures that exist from both inside and outside standpoints. I also use the term ‘auto-ethnography’ throughout this essay because it is appropriate to how I am either pulled towards a specific place or the way in which I research within a place. My practice involves an on-going process of questioning: the social, how and in what way is a space used? the political, what are the ramifications and political complexities of a place? psychological, how does it makes me feel? the historical, what are the historical traces and their significance? the physical, what can be seen, found and accessed? The conclusion supports the idea that art can illuminate and make visible aspects of lived experience and histories that have been buried or lie hidden. The Case Studies evidence the value and significance of an artist’s examination of the infra-ordinary within complex layers of non-art places. From my research, I am confident that the case studies contained in this essay are not only original but have no real equivalent precedent. Evidence is provided in volume 2 from arts organisations, journals, conferences, and case studies on heritage and public art that clearly demonstrate that my published works have made an original contribution to knowledge. The supporting material also substantiates how various agencies think differently about artists engagement within the public realm and in the field of heritage conservation as a consequence of my work. I believe this is an important legacy of my work above and beyond their value as art projects. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to express my sincere appreciation to my Director of Studies, Professor Caroline Wilkinson and co-supervisors, Professor Colin Fallows and Professor John Hyatt for their patient guidance, encouragement and advice. Similar gratitude to Sam Ainslie who has been a true friend and dedicated mentor. I am also grateful to my husband Tom for his moral support throughout. With special thanks to all the people with whom I have collaborated during these projects over the last twenty years. Finally, but by no means least, thanks go to my mother, who died 24th January 2017, whose strength of spirit was an inspiration to me. I dedicate this thesis to her.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: site intervention. auto ethnography, place, public art, personal histories, heritage,
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Liverpool School of Art and Design
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2017 12:54
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2017 12:54
Supervisors: Wilkinson, C and Fallows, C and Hyatt, J
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/7455

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