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Title: The divided seal : reading a history of signatures in visual art through Derrida's Signature Event Context
Author: Jardine, Fiona
ISNI:       0000 0004 5359 7912
Awarding Body: University of Wolverhampton
Current Institution: University of Wolverhampton
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis looks at the function of signatures in visual art using the theory of Jacques Derrida and a series of paradigmatic historical examples. Specifically, it departs from ‘Signature Event Context’ (SEC) to establish signature outside the idiom of visual art as a social process. Having established signature as process designed to guarantee presence, it suggests that signature should be considered a method of production. As a method of production, signature has a significant contemporary relevance for dematerialised and Relational Art practices which are frequently held to be ‘unsigned’. This thesis suggests grounds for questioning the unsigned quality of Relational Art, and looks at what signatory production means for it. Until the 1990s, signature was mostly ignored as a subject for serious art historical scholarship. It is still rarely indexed as a subject even when it warrants a mention in the body of a text. Although a clutch of recent studies have addressed its occurrence in the work of individual artists, or within the boundaries of narrowly defined eras, there is little work - if any - which attempts to connect these pockets of knowledge with a conceptual grounding of what signature does in order to develop a connected narrative and broad understanding for its place. As a result, there is little interrogation of signature’s mechanism alongside historical examples, and scholarship is instead focused on its appearance. This thesis attempts a broad, conceptually informed, historical survey, using examples that date as far back as the sixth century BC. The aim is to unpack the signature-form ‘R. Mutt’ which appears on Marcel Duchamp’s Readymade, Fountain (1917), a work with great conceptual importance for contemporary dematerialised and Relational Art practices. In bringing SEC into close 3 proximity to Fountain, the thesis establishes potential grounds for reading a significant theoretical relationship between Derrida and Duchamp, a pairing which has been neglected by scholars despite conceptual sympathies between them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: art ; artist ; Dematerialisation ; Materiality ; Relational ; Signature ; Courbet ; Derrida ; Duchamp