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Migratory aesthetics, pastiche and painting : an exploration of migratory experience

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Haddon, NJ ORCID: 0000-0002-4523-7808 2021 , 'Migratory aesthetics, pastiche and painting : an exploration of migratory experience', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This project draws on my migratory journey, using painting as a vehicle to explore the nuances of this enduring experience. Even though I arrived in Australia some twenty years ago, my experience echoes that of Paul Carter for whom the migrant does not arrive once and for all but continues to arrive over time.
When the term ‘migration’ is brought together with artistic production, it conjures up a distinctive way of working whose very nature is transitory, moving and unfixed. This project takes migration as its core subject in terms of its content and its mode of working that content. If the experience of migration includes a sense of location in flux, displacement and the strange sensation of different time zones felt simultaneously, how can painting evoke this experience? Further, if in understanding a new place, the migrant uses fragments of memory, associations and representations formed elsewhere, what modes of painting can be used to articulate this?
The project is situated within the field of ‘migratory aesthetics’, a framework developed by Mieke Bal who establishes the migratory as a form of aesthetic practice whose chief characteristics are spatial displacement and multi-temporality. While Bal applies this approach primarily to the moving image, my intention is to translate it to the specificity of painting. In doing so, the aim is to develop a painting process that is itself migratory in nature, rather than merely representing the migrant experience. John Akomfrah’s video installation, Vertigo Sea (2015), is used to illustrate Bal’s framework with formal and conceptual equivalence established in artwork by Peter Doig.
I have explored an approach to painting that dislocates fragments of artistic images, relocating and recombining them in the new contexts of my paintings. Whilst these fragments have particular affective resonance for me as way markers along my migratory journey, they also speak to other migratory narratives, most often because the artist who produced them was also a migrant. This recombining in a new context of multiple fragments with which the artist has some emotional connection, is a hallmark of ‘pastiche’ as defined by Richard Dyer. It simultaneously evokes feelings for that which it references at the same time as an awareness of its historical constructedness. I contextualise this by looking at the work of Dexter Dalwood.
The overarching strategy that binds together the parts of this project is that of ‘collage’ where collage is understood as the cohering of disparate fragments and materials within a unifying frame. I used an overarching collagist approach to encompass modes of painting and installation within the fold of migratory aesthetics, in order to answer the following questions:
• How can pastiche be used, within a discourse of painting, to add a nuanced currency to the field of migratory aesthetics?
• How can combinatory elements of a superficially static, painted, pictorial language be mobilised to convey a sensitised space of migrant experience?
• How is a migratory practice also a critical practice?
The aim, in answering these questions, was to model a distinct visual presence within the field of migratory aesthetics. The model, in this case, may disclose aspects of my own migratory experience but I propose that it delivers a framework that is transferable to other contexts and situations and can be used as a tool to open up familiar terrain to critical new readings.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Haddon, NJ
Keywords: Migratory Aesthetics, Pastiche, Painting, Tasmania Painting
DOI / ID Number: 10.25959/100.00037806
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2021 the author

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