In 2011 I was part of a class facilitated by Goldin+Sennaby, whilst studying at the Kunglia Konsthogskolan (Royal College of Art) in Stockholm. The class was constructed as a series of meetings, hosted by each participant in turn. The meetings could be anywhere and take whatever format might be useful, the meeting as a performance, and as a structuring device for information. I found it a difficult and valuable exercise to imagine how a meeting could clarify and deepen my practice – what would the meeting be about? I wanted to talk about sculpture, about the attribution of meaning, in particular the possibility of a non-narrative or physically embodied meaning.
I really enjoy Michael Taussig’s strange blend of anthropology, cultural history, magic and storytelling, and I read quite a bit of archeology research. So it seemed logical that investigating archeological ideas around meaning and how they related to art would be interesting. I aimed to discuss how meaning is ascribed to objects that are abstracted through form or time. I feel that the process within archeology has valuable parallels for art, particularly sculptural works or work that seems very mute and tacit rather than representational or context based.
I was fortunate enough to get in contact with Dr Jackie Taffinder senior curator of Prehistory at the Historiska Museet in Stockholm. I asked Jackie if the museum had any artifacts that were of unknown function, ‘problematic objects’ clearly made by people but opaque as to their use or meaning. Our group was able to meet in the storeroom of the museum and handle a series of Neolithic objects and we ended up having a fascinating speculative discussion around the meaning, use, value and presence of an object.
Currently I am trying to find practitioners of magic who are interested in talking to me about their experience of magical objects or places. The ‘magical’ community has a different way of describing the presence, meaning and power of an object (‘thing’) that could also form a useful parallel to art historical discourse.
It was with these thoughts in mind I noticed this lecture by Dr Stephen Alexander:
The Pygmalion Syndrome: Sex Dolls, Solipsism & Statues
Agalmatophilia, or statue-fetish, is an erotic fantasy practice that can be traced back to Pygmalion, who can serve as a founding narrative for the many contemporary forms of desire for artificial beings. In tonight’s philosophical seminar, Stephen Alexander argues that such relationships should be given full legitimacy. Those who privilege reciprocity say of course say no, insisting that love – true love – can exist only between moral subjects and is therefore tied exclusively to personhood or human being. Alexander challenges the prejudice surrounding those who love statues, mannequins, or cyborgs. Can you be persuaded? Stephen Alexander has given over thirty papers at Treadwell’s during the last seven years. He holds a doctorate in Modern European Philosophy and Literature and is attempting to construct a misanthropic materialism and a perverse object-oriented ontology. These evenings consist of a formal paper followed by seminar discussion.
If you are interested its:
Time: 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start.
Wednesday 26 September
Treadwells book shop
33 Store Street, Bloomsbury London, WC1E 7BS
Sounds fascinating, but with my luck I will probably be moving house that day.COMMENT
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