Title: Via the body. A research on the expressions of the human condition through body fragmentation -jewelry art as contemporary relics
Authors: Joris, Hannah; S0107520
Issue Date: 18-Nov-2013
Abstract: This research is an investigation on how the fragmentation of the body can express those challenges we are confronted with through our human condition. The meaning of the fragment, the (making of) object(s), a sense of loss, the (fragmented) human body in representations, and the body’s response to corporeal representations are explored by means of artistic work based on the (de-) forming of the human body. The artistic research focuses on jewelry art, objects and drawings, and their soothing role for humanity. This research merges the image, the body, the human and the fragment into its subject matter and has left both unspoken and spoken, intangible and tangible traces of each topic. This research rises and falls with the image: images gave birth to it and there are images that were born of this research. It approaches the body: there are pendants to be hung from our necks and there is skin to be touched. It absorbs the human: there are images that are shaped to the palms of our hands and there are traces of our fears and hopes in drawn lines and fixed stitches. This research embraces the fragment: there are cut roots and their wounds have been tended to.But this research kneaded—and needed—the blend of image, body, human and fragment on another level too. As a so-called ‘practice-based research’ or ‘research in the arts,’ there was the need to bring two worlds together, which are in fact two sides of the same coin. In merging two worlds, there is always a balance to keep or seek for.In my attempt to keep this balance but nevertheless push its limits and stretch its boundaries, I have been inspired by Visual Anthropology. This discipline created the possibility to approach my subject matter via the body, the image, the human and the fragmented. The field of Visual Anthropology dedicates special attention to the body, death, the senses, loss, suffering and the ‘restitution of honor’ of the image. The framework of the discipline therefore creates the possibility to think the artistic body of work—images—differently, in such a way that the sensory gains a crucial role and that the relationship between human and image comes to life. Approaching the object as a mediator in a social network forms a red line throughout the entire research. This research can be considered as a dialogue that follows a path through the maker’s thoughts, experiences and feelings. I have, however, sought to leave space—an in-between—for the reader, letting the images and text create a suggestive framework together, rather than giving definitive interpretations and conclusive analyses. In the part Loss, Longing, Guilt & The Fragment I investigate how objects, and more specifically (body) fragments can offer humans a soothing reunification. I here explore the role of loss and guilt in human life via philosophical (e.g. Hannah Arendt), sociological, personal and biblical reflections. This loss and guilt bring about absence, loneliness and longing in life; elements that are crucial in our desire for reunification, which, in turn, awakens the human drive to create. The birth of the image as a substitute presence, in order to undo the unbearable absence, is essential in my understanding of the image. Finally, I consider the tension between absence and presence, which very much defines fragments, and in particular body fragments. I conclude with an attempt to demonstrate that fragmentation can in fact offer us healing, since we are able to identify with the imperfection of the fragmented, bringing about a complementary relation between human and object, or, stronger still, between wearer and jewel/ adornment. The complex relationship between humans and their objects is at the heart of the part Lost Souls. The Object as a Mediator –ending up in a cura posterior era? The starting point in this part is my concern for the disturbed Western relationship between humans and images, in which humans mistrust the senses and the irrational, and moreover have the tendency to regard humans as subjects standing out well above their objects. In order to question and redefine this relationship, I follow three threads. The first thread, Mater, aims at understanding how image and body are interconnected by exploring the birth of the (Christian) image. This first thread brings to light that the intertwining of the rational/ transparent with the irrational/ indefinable is in fact a necessity for mankind. In the second thread, Matter, I focus on the role of the senses. I briefly look into theoretical reflections concerning the object (such as agency) and their influence on the Western relationship between humans and objects. I here defend to approach the object as an (ensouled) subject. In the last thread, Making/ Maker, I consider the relation of the maker to, subsequently, theory and writing about creations and the making process, the relationship between maker and creation, and the benefits and disadvantages that the maker experiences during the creation process. To conclude, I question who, today, in our Western consumption society, is still able to approach the object as a subject—or, shall I say, who is able to let himself/ herself be touched by the object as subject—and who is able to value and honor this. The perspective of the maker versus the creation process and the responsibilities that accompany this process, are explored more thoroughly in Sadness. Destruction and (the absence of) Empathy. The Suffering of the Condemned Object. Firstly, I investigate the relationship between the maker and his/ her creations. I consider this relationship to be a bond between two subjects, rather than between a (dominant) subject and an (submissive) object. These reflections are followed by an inquiry into the reasons why humans create. I have here included my view as a maker, namely, that making in rooted in a sense of loss and longing. Hereafter I look into the ambiguous character of making, which can be considered as a via dolorosa –a distressing journey between pleasure and pain. Finally, I reflect upon the role of destruction during the making process and the resulting feelings of empathy and guilt that the maker feels for his/ her creations after his/ her destructive actions. In Between Ouverture and Couverture, Disclosure and Closure. Dissections: Six sections in action, I take a closer look at the complex relationship between destruction and construction, in which these two seemingly opposite actions constantly succeed one another. This pulsation characterizes the image, which continually opens and closes itself towards the viewer. More specifically, I explore the relationship between destruction and construction in relation to my own making process. I am here mainly interested how this pendular dialogue influences—shapes, forms—my objects. This final part is divided in six pieces, according to six actions in my making process that linger between destruction and construction: Cutting/ Peeling/ Tearing, Tracing/ Impressing, Covering/ Wrapping, Twisting/ Wringing/ Wrenching, Stitching Away/ Suturing/ Sewing and, finally, Piercing/ Stabbing/ Penetrating.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Art History, Leuven

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