On mystical form

van Schalkwyk, Jacob (2019-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This is not a conventional thesis. It brings together ideas that do not self-evidently belong together. The common denominator throughout is myself: my conceptual and art-making process. The ideas I present in this thesis are woven together by the common thread of my work, which spans drawing, painting, printmaking, film and video, performance and writing, sculpture and installation. Since my own development as an artist has not been strictly linear – my practice has developed serendipitously – this is not strictly a standard, linear academic text: I break from academic form intermittently into memoir, specifically to provide autobiographical information that is pertinent to my work. When I do so, I follow the form I use for my artist statements: I speak candidly and simply about my work and the events surrounding what I do. In the context of this thesis, the memoir form allows me to include information that serves as clarification of my core focus by example – on an experiential, autobiographical level in relation to my work. For the sake of clarity, I have limited these sections to introductions for each chapter. Chapter one and six, which deal with my own work, are necessarily autobiographical in tone. In addition to my introductions, I have included somewhat anecdotal information in various captions to some images throughout, as well as footnotes. These captions serve to provide collateral information without directly participating in the thread of my discussions around the core focus of this study. They are, so to speak, conversationally apocryphal but not irrelevant. Apart from this idiosyncratic intertextual practice, I have taken care to follow the conventions of academic writing throughout the body of this thesis, using references and citations as is standard practice. A note about the work included in this thesis: when I refer to my own work, I am referring to work that has been exhibited and reviewed in addition to the work I have made specifically with this study in mind. The requirement for practice-led research is that one is examined only on work completed for the study, but since this project is a culmination of all my previous research, this reference to earlier work is necessary. In discussion of my previously exhibited work, I have taken care to reference relevant information in the public record and to provide supporting articles and material from my own collection in the form of addenda. I also provide addenda for articles sourced online, rather than hyperlinks wherever possible. The six chapters do not follow a strictly expositional argument as in conventional quantitative theses but should rather be read as six distinct essays on the topic of mystical form as I define and employ it. Each refers to an encounter with artists as they influenced me and helped me to develop my own distinct artistic engagement with them. With mystical form as the nexus of this web of spatially, temporally and geographically diverse influences, I see this Masters project as a formalisation of my artistic practice. It is because of the nature of the central theme – which is averse to definition by a strictly linear analytical approach – that I have chosen a somewhat multifarious form for this thesis. Therefore, each chapter may, individually and in combination with the others, be considered as an approach that presents my understanding of the central theme of my study. Research question The central theme and core focus of my study (both in my practical work and writing) is reflected in the title of this thesis, “On Mystical Form.” My core research question throughout this thesis is what is the nature of mystical form?

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Geen Afrikaanse opsomming beskikbaar.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106081
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