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Title: A 'rupture backwards' : the re-emergence of Shamanic sensibilities amongst the Russian avant-garde from 1900-1933
Author: Gill, Charlotte Lucy Kavanagh
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 7440
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2015
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This PhD examines the re-emergence of shamanic sensibilities amongst the Russian avant-garde in the period 1900-1933, focusing on the artists Larionov, Goncharova, Malevich, Filonov and Kandinsky. It considers how these pioneering artists, having anticipated Jung’s crisis of psychic dislocation, were perhaps inspired by the ideology, iconography, ritualistic practice and mystical symbolism inherent in shamanism and other associated phenomena. Shamanism was chosen as the theme as it was Jung’s quintessential metaphor for the process towards psychic reunification. The thesis analyses how the artists utilised parallel conceptions in their work in order to attempt to bring about the reunification of the consciousness, both on a visual level in their pictorial imagery, and on a more subtle level through referencing psychological or philosophical principles which may lead to the manifestation of an experience arguably similar to those common in the practice of ‘primitive’ cultures. The thesis attempts to take the reader on a metaphorical shamanic journey, through focusing on four aspects which parallel those found in shamanic practice in the stages that they occur to the neophyte. Firstly, it considers the concept of dvoeverie, a painterly principle relying on the conflation of pagan and religious imagery, and how its artistic expression might equate to Jungian archetypal expression. Secondly, it discusses how the avant-garde re-defined the role of the artist so that the artistic figure might parallel Jung’s metaphorical shaman, and how they began assuming an archetypal role. Thirdly, it examines how these artists began to express a sense of escapism, in an attempt to express Jungian collective archetypes metaphorically expressed in the ‘soul-journey’, through referencing ecstatic and mystical practises frequently utilised to facilitate ritual, through creating a sense of transcendent voyage, and through visually attempting to express the experience of cosmic noumena. Finally, the journey culminates in the examination of how the avant-garde adopted the ultimate Jungian telos of cosmic psychic healing. Throughout this discussion, the thesis attempts to understand why these artists might have been inspired by shamanic and mystical philosophies, through interpreting their practise using a Jungian framework, arguing that it was the artists’ perception of Jung’s crisis of psychic dislocation that inspired the re-emergence of shamanic sensibilities to provide a visual metaphor for the expression of their overall social and ameliorative aims.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available