Turning back : continuity and difference in modernist and postmodernist reflexivity

Collett, Rachel Joan (2010-03)

Thesis (MA VA (Visual Arts))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The primary function of paintings and novels in Western culture has historically been considered the depiction or description of reality. Over the course of the last century, however, the inherent reflexivity of both art and literature has become progressively more insistent and programmatic, in such a way as challenges the relationship between form and the world. A re-thinking of the role of representation is thus central to both modernism and postmodernism. This thesis is an investigation into the relationship between modern and postmodern reflexivity. Through the close examination of four artists who serve as case studies, I argue that literary and artistic modernism‟s emphasis on form and subjectivity, as well as the tendency of postmodern art and writing to flaunt its own status as rhetoric/fiction, are different facets of a continuous response to a rapidly changing world. Using the insights of post-structuralist theory, I suggest that whereas modernism‟s reflexive drive is directed towards truth and self-knowledge, postmodern reflexivity is centrally concerned with the elusive, continually shifting nature of meaning. What emerges in the light of the practice of individual artist and authors, however, is that the modern and postmodern reflexive modes are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but can co-exist, producing a vital and necessary tension.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Beskrywing en uitbeelding van die werklikheid word geskiedkundig as die kernfunksies van skilderye en die roman in die Westerse kultuur beskou. Gedurende die laaste eeu het die inherente refleksiwiteit van beide kuns en letterkunde toenemend meer programmaties en sistematies geword. Dit het geskied op „n wyse wat die verhouding tussen vorm en die wêreld uitdaag. „n Herbesinning van die rol van uitbeelding of representasie is gevolglik van sentrale belang vir beide modernisme en postmodernisme. Hierdie tesis is „n ondersoek na die verwantskap tussen moderne en postmoderne refleksiwiteit. Deur „n noukerige ondersoek van vier kunstenaars se werk, stel ek voor dat die letterkundige en artistieke klem van modernisme op vorm en subjektiwiteit, sowel as die gebruiklike kenmerk van retoriek/fiksie, verskillende aspekte is van „n voortdurende weerkaatsing op „n vinnig veranderende wêreld is. Deur die teoretiese perspektiewe van post-stukturalisme toe te pas, stel ek voor dat modernistiese refleksiwiteit neig na die waarheid en selfkennis, terwyl postmoderne refleksiwiteit fokus op die onbepaalde en veranderlike aard van betekenis. Nietemin, uit my kritiese beskouing van die kreatiewe praktyk van afsonderlike kunstenaars en skrywers blyk dit dat die modernistiese en postmodernistiese refleksiewe benaderinge nie noodwendig mekaar uitsluit nie, maar saam kan bestaan en „n dinamiese en noodsaaklike spanning skep.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4256
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