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Title: Spectres of minimalism
Author: Skinner, Kirstie
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2009
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My thesis plays host to a variety of spectres. Taking the peripheral, overlooked qualities of shadows and reflections as a starting point, I show how discourse can narrow one's perceptual focus. 1960s polemics have concentrated the beam of light by which minimalist objects now appear, obscuring the marginal but tangible effect of Donald Judd's reflections. I ask why such reflections were ignored in his own writings, why they were regarded as problematic by contemporary critics concerned about 'illusionism', and why they have remained (largely) unexamined since; I conclude that quandaries about seductive illusion were of a similar order to contemporary worries around immersive spectacle. While these `spectres' of minimalism - unacknowledged optical effects and repressed anxieties - have been omitted in historical discourse, they have re-materialised in later works by Susan Hiller, Mona Hatoum, Joanne Tatham and Torn O'Sullivan, and Jan de Cock - works which can be characterised as parades of reflections, shadows, ghosts and avatars. In these artists' negotiations of their minimalist 'inheritance', they acknowledge and engage with the optical illusions, uncanny elements, and unspoken anxieties that inhabit Judd's works. Having experienced something akin to a haunting as hitherto hidden aspects of Judd's work have suddenly come to light, I now adopt an art historical methodology that not only takes account of, but is founded on, such spectral revelations. Seeing through the lenses that later artistic practices provide, I offer a contemporary re-reading of Judd's work: I propose a new set of associations with cinemas, cities, crystals and cars, and argue that, after all these years, Judd's works are still well placed to prompt philosophical reflections on contemporary experience.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available