Recollections of home : a study of the use of domestic objects and needlework in contemporary jewellery and my art practice

Van der Merwe, Catrina (Nini) (2013-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study is motivated by my own art practice, which exhibits a keen interest in objects and activities historically associated with the domestic, specifically with relation to needlework, in the making or producing of contemporary jewellery. Visual analysis of the work of other contemporary jewellers resulted in my realisation that the use of domestic objects and needlework in contemporary jewellery can refer to the idea of “home” through the use of phenomenological devices such as memory and nostalgia. My own art practice makes specific use of memory and nostalgia, and references trauma as experienced in the home. I investigate these themes specifically as they are depicted in contemporary jewellery. I begin my study by discussing how humans go about forming relationships with the objects with which they surround themselves. I discuss Martin Heidegger’s theory of hermeneutic phenomenology, regarding human interaction with objects and our relationship to them with regard to their specific functionality. I argue that taking the domestic objects out of their context, and in so doing ‘removing’ their functionality, allows the subject (maker, viewer, wearer) to suggest a new ‘background or horizon’ (Thomas 2006: 47) against which the object can now be read and understood. I discuss how jewellery can function as a mnemonic device, and how the domestic objects used in the specific jewellery pieces that I discuss add to this reading, identifying memory and nostalgia as the main devices facilitating a discussion of these themes. From here I work towards a definition of the domestic. By tracing the ways in which the domestic has come to denote a “space” traditionally gendered female, I look at the material culture represented within this “space” and how it relates to women. I draw on Svetlana Boym and Susan Stewart’s thoughts regarding nostalgia and its appearance in contemporary culture. Trauma and how it manifests in individual identities is then discussed with the aid of Michael S. Roth and his discussion surrounding Memory, Trauma, and History (2012). I discuss specific contemporary jewellery projects by Manon van Kouswijk (Lepidoptera Domestica, 2007); Gesine Hackenberg (Ceramic Jewellery, 2006-2011); Esther Knobel (My Grandmother is Knitting too, 2000-2002); and Iris Eichenberg (Heimat,2004). In my final chapter I discuss my own work, and highlight the ways in which I use domestic objects and needlework to reference memory, nostalgia and trauma thematically with relation to my own recollections of home.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie is gemotiveer deur my eie kunspraktyk, wat my belangstelling toon in voorwerpe en aktiwiteite wat histories verband hou met die huis, spesifiek met betrekking tot naaldwerk, in die vervaardiging van kontemporêre juweliersware. Visuele analise van die werk van ander kontemporêre juweliers het gelei tot die besef dat die gebruik van huishoudelike voorwerpe en naaldwerk in kontemporêre juweliersware kan verwys na die idee van "huis" deur die gebruik van fenomenologiese idees soos herinneringe en nostalgie. My kunspraktyk maak spesifiek gebruik van herinneringe en nostalgie, en verwys na trauma soos in die huis ervaar. Ek ondersoek hierdie temas spesifiek soos hulle uitgebeeld word in kontemporêre juweliersware. Ek begin my studie deur die wyses te bespreek waarop mense te werk gaan in die vorming van verhoudings met die voorwerpe waarmee hulle hulself omring. Ek verwys na Martin Heidegger se teorie van hermeneutiese fenomenologie, ten opsigte van menslike interaksie met voorwerpe en die verhouding wat met hulle gevorm word met betrekking tot hul spesifieke funksies. Ek argumenteer dat deur die huishoudelike voorwerpe uit hulle oorspronklike konteks te neem, en sodoende hul funksie te ‘verwyder’, kan die subjek (maker, kyker, draer) 'n nuwe “agtergrond of horison" (Thomas 2006: 47) voor stel waarteen die voorwerp gelees en verstaan kan word. Ek bespreek hoe juweliersware kan funksioneer as 'n mnemoniese toestel, en hoe die huishoudelike voorwerpe wat gebruik word in die spesifieke juweliersware wat ek in hierdie studie bespreek kan toevoeg tot hierdie bespreking, deur die identifisering van herinneringe en nostalgie as die hoof toestelle. Van hier het ek gewerk aan 'n definisie van wat die huishoudelike behels. Deur ondersoek in te stel na die manier waarop die huishoudelike as 'n tradisioneel vroulike "ruimte" geïdentifiseer is, kyk ek na die materiële kultuur verteenwoordig binne hierdie "ruimte" en hoe dit verband hou met vroue. Ek verwys na Svetlana Boym en Susan Stewart se idees rakende nostalgie en die voorkoms daarvan in hedendaagse kultuur. Trauma en die maniere waarop dit in individuele identiteite manifesteer word vervolgens bespreek met die hulp van Michael S. Roth en sy bespreking van “Memory, Trauma, and History” (2012). Ek analiseer spesifieke kontemporêre juwelierswareprojekte deur Manon van Kouswijk (Lepidoptera Domestica, 2007), Gesine Hackenberg (Ceramic Jewellery, 2006-2011), Ester Knobel (My Grandmother is Knitting too, 2000-2002), en Iris Eichenberg (Heimat, 2004). In my laaste hoofstuk bespreek ek my eie werk, en verwys veral die maniere waarop ek huishoudelike voorwerpe en naaldwerk gebruik om tematies na geheue, nostalgie en trauma met betrekking tot my eie herinneringe van die huis te verwys.

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