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Title: ... of delay, hesitation and detour : resisting the constitution of knowledge : Walter Benjamin, re-search and contemporary art
Author: Garrett, Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 7432 0971
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2016
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The point of departure of this dissertation is a few words extracted from “Agesilaus Santander,” an autobiographical fragment Walter Benjamin wrote in 1933 while in exile on Ibiza. The first version reads: “...I came into the world under the sign of Saturn, the star of hesitation and delay ...” He later revised the latter clause to: “the star of the slowest revolution, the planet of detours and delays...” Through processes of suspension, obstruction and potentiality implied by ‘delay,’ ‘hesitation,’ and ‘detour’ as ‘methods’ of thinking through art, this thesis revisits aspects of Benjamin’s understanding of time, history, origin and the artwork through conditional readings of selected contemporary artworks. Specifically, I am interested in understanding certain contemporary art and theoretical practices as modalities of resistance to modernist art historical and critical frameworks. In this tactical resistance, immanent in Benjamin’s reading of modernity, ‘delay,’ ‘hesitation’ and ‘detour’ are seen as characteristic of a form of critical thinking through and about art and history. ‘Hesitation,’ ‘delay’ and ‘detour’ are then understood as unconventional ‘methods’ that seek to break away from prescribed, or disciplinary, pathways of reading and interpreting works of art. In order to explore these general issues, I sketch out critical constellations for three artworks, each of which both engages and resists pedagogical structures and processes. This underlying pedagogical theme is signposted by the titles of the three chapters: I. “Lecture: ... of delay in Robert Morris’s 21.3, (1964/1994)”; II. “Study: ...of hesitation in Bethan Huws’s Origin and Source I-VI, (1997)”; and III. “Essay: ...of detour in The Otilith Group’s Otilith III, (2009).” I offer ‘slow,’ conditional readings of the particularities and relational contexts of these works, re-inscribing Benjamin’s creative approach to critical research work embedded in the processes of both making and writing through art. Since my approach is tempered by structures of incompletion and indeterminacy embodied by delay, hesitation and detour, I address questions concerning the borders of the process of ‘reading’ artworks and of categorizing both the ‘artwork’ and the ‘artist’ as bounded conceptual unities. My engagement with these questions signifies both a resistance to and an opening out of the limits of representation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Art ; Fine Art