Illustrating autobiography : rearticulating representations of self in Bitterkomix and the visual journal

Millan, Roberto (2012-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis explores an analysis of autobiographical illustration, as it relates directly to autobiographical devices employed in Bitterkomix and my own visual journals. The result is a practitioner-specific approach that frames my own work within a discourse of comics and consequently within the larger discourse of visual narrative. These devices are analysed in the works of artists in Bitterkomix who employ autobiography, not only as a means of effecting more intimate interactions between the reader and the narrative, but also as a form of legitimising narrative. A principal deduction that I have made is that autobiographical writing operates through the filter of memory and language translation. A divergence occurs within Bitterkomix, as well as within my own work, between the artist as himself and the artist as his autobiographical self - the two are never identical. I choose to define autobiographical illustration as an interpretative and experimental visual writing process used to affirm and negate perceived concepts of self through the filters of memory, language translation and imagination. Imagination acts as an extension of current memory from which perceived past, present and future identity constructs emanate and extend. These constructs are by no means indicative of historical fact but often appear to be so given autobiography's association as a referential text. The visual journal as an autobiographical object, like Bitterkomix, seeks to legitimise itself in 'naturalising narrative' by feigning to make it the outcome of a documentative process. It is exactly the tension between autobiography's perceived characteristic as a genre that involves 'real' experiences and its actual function as a narrative construction of identity that merits its use as a strategic device. I argue how my visual journals constitute autobiographical narrative objects and archives of autobiographical illustrative form and content. This tension is amplified in my visual journals in their association as deeply personal objects and as a result of what is perceived to be the artist's natural process. Most importantly, these narrative objects are placed within the public's gaze and are made to be read as autobiographical texts, ultimately as documents of this process.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek outobiografiese illustrasie wat direk verband hou met outobiografiese praktyke wat in Bitterkomix en in my eie visuele joernale gebruik word. Die resultaat is 'n praktisyn-spesifieke aanslag wat my eie werk binne die diskoers van stripkuns plaas, en sodoende binne die groter diskoers van visuele narratief. Hierdie praktyke word geanaliseer in die werk van Bitterkomix-kunstenaars wat outobiografie gebruik, nie net as 'n manier om meer intieme interaksies tussen die leser en die narratief te bewerkstellig nie, maar ook om die narratief legitiem te maak. Ek maak die afleiding dat outobiografiese skryfwerk deur die filters van geheue en taal werksaam is. In beide Bitterkomix en my eie werk is 'n skeiding tussen die kunstenaar self en die kunstenaar se outobiografiese self sigbaar – die twee is nooit identies nie. Ek verkies om outobiografiese illustrasie te definieer as 'n interpretatiewe en eksperimentele visuele skryfproses wat gebruik word om waargenome begrippe van die self deur die filters van geheue, vertaling en verbeelding te bevestig en te negeer. Die verbeelding dien as 'n voortsetting van huidige geheue waaruit waargenome identiteitskonstrukte van die verlede, hede en toekoms voortvloei. Hierdie konstrukte is geensins aanduidend van historiese feite nie, maar kom dikwels so voor gegewe outobiografie se assosiasie as verwysende teks. My argument is dat my visuele joernale beide outobiografiese narratiewe objekte én argiewe van outobiografiese illustratiewe vorm en inhoud is. Visuele joernale as outobiografiese objekte, soos in die geval van Bitterkomix, probeer sigself legitiem maak deur middel van 'naturaliserende narratief', deur voor te gee dat dit die resultaat van 'n dokumenterende proses is. Dit is juis die spanning tussen outobiografie se aard as 'n genre wat gegrond is op 'ware' ervaringe, en outobiografie se funksie as 'n narratiewe konstruksie, wat die gebruik daarvan as 'n strategiese middel die moeite werd maak. Hierdie spanning word in my visuele joernale verhoog deur hulle diep persoonlike aard, en as gevolg van wat gesien word as die kunstenaar se natuurlike proses. Belangriker nog is dat hierdie narratiewe objekte binne die publiek se sigveld geplaas word om as outobiografiese tekste gelees te word, en ook uiteindelik as dokumente van die proses.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20268
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