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Title: Juan Muñoz and silence : images and words
Author: Stuart-Smith, Mark
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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The thesis develops a methodological poetics of silence in order to explore the historical and aesthetic resonances of key works by the Spanish sculptor Juan Muñoz (1953-2001). It represents the first detailed interpretive study of silence in Munoz's work. Focusing on the period of transition from 1986 to 1992, from the implied sounds and silences of Muñoz's sculptural installations to the literal use of sound and silence in Muñoz's first radio piece, it also has a wider relevance to Muñoz’s work as a whole. The thesis locates Muñoz's work at the intersection of multiple historical silencings, showing how the work draws on these to evoke contemporary silences and absences. The three main chapters focus on the strategies deployed by Muñoz in the construction of silence. Chapter 1 applies Walter Benjamin's theory of allegory to demonstrate the operation of allegory and its relation to the silencing and disavowal of memory. In Chapters 2 and 3 the analysis of medium and ekphrasis, as generative and cognitive mechanisms and sites of silence, is framed, respectively, by the phenomenologically- informed writings of Rosalind Krauss, and by Michel Foucault’s analysis of Velázquez’s Las Meninas. The thesis examines an array of texts including interviews, notebook entries, and essays by Muñoz that have previously escaped critical scrutiny, and presents the first detailed exploration of the relations between images and words in Muñoz's work. The thesis proposes a paradoxical tension in Muñoz's work between a desublimation of silence and its reencoding in new aesthetic forms. Silence revolves around questions concerning the self and its others, and is articulated in the work through the construction of point of view and the gaze, inscribed through human and inhuman geometries, for example through anamorphosis, or the displaced figuring of the human. The latter is epitomised by the image of the ventriloquist's dummy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available