Curating South African flute compositions : landscape as theme of exhibition

Pauw, Esther Marie (2015-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study explores intersections between curatorship, South African flute compositions in concert practice and ‘landscape’ as theme of exhibition for concert events. The investigation into these intersections is informed by artistic research, an approach that is relatively new for South African research in music. This type of transformative research, similar in some ways to action research, embraces the performative integration of multi-directional processes of theoretical work, reflection and the performance of music towards generating knowledges. Methodologies therefore include theoretical research, reflection, meta-reflection and self-reflection, as well as performance itself, processes that, at times, happen concurrently, or chronologically, or in other integrated ways. Outcomes include the formulation of knowledges into a discursive mode that is written up in the format of a dissertation. Online internet-based links to the videos of the three events accompany this dissertation. These written and videographed documents attest to the notion of the concert as site of research (rather than merely a site of repertoire and skill display), amongst others, and remind that curated concert events and their worded reflections (that now exist, traceably) are artwork texts themselves, thereby indicating the complex processes that occur when artistic product transforms into artistic argument. This project views the notion of themed presentation as one of the means that curatorship practices offer to direct museological and visual arts exhibitions. The research contends that curating as theoretical framework, but also as interventionist practice that is context-sensitive, is able to inform and invigorate conventional concert practices in the exhibition of South African flute compositions. In a first phase of the research I investigate how South African flute music compositions have been curated by flautists who have engaged with this body of music over the past three decades. In a second phase I act as flautist-curator to curate three concerts that feature a selection of this body of compositions, using the theme of landscape as central emphasis. Three of the chapters of this dissertation serve to document the design, presentation of and reflection on these curations. In the process I am compelled to ask whether and how the theme of landscape influences my concert practice, as I am aware that the topic of landscape – and land – constitutes ongoing moments of national crisis. The landscape-centred curations, each in turn, take me to a critical engagement with the romantic landscape paintings of artist J.H. Pierneef; to the insecure, unstable and risk-laden ‘smooth space’ of Johannesburg city, and also to the recognition and embracing of a sub-altern voice that sounds decoloniality as a radical tool towards social transformation. In these curations I play the flute, an instrument that is traditionally and mythologically associated with the pastoral, but through my concert curations I perhaps find ‘An Other Tongue’, as Walter Mignolo suggests decolonial aestheSis is able to instigate. This research project demonstrates the power of the flute and its Western scored notations to intervene, transform and be transformed locally amidst curations that are context sensitive. Ultimately, the research is concerned with the possibilities presented by artistic research.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie is ’n ondersoek na die skakels wat na vore kom wanneer Suid-Afrikaanse fluitkomposisies in konsertpraktyk, met kuratorskap en met landskap as tema van uitstalling (vir hierdie komposisies) met mekaar in verband gebring word. Die projek word gerig deur artistieke navorsing wat, vir Suid-Afrikaanse navorsing in musiek, relatief nuut is. Die transformerende effek van hierdie performatiewe soort navorsing, gelyksoortig aan aksie-navorsing, is ’n proses gekenmerk deur onkonvensionele metodologie, waaghalsige praktyk, asook onvoorspelbare uitkomste. Teoretiese navorsing, refleksie, meta-refleksie en self-refleksie, asook uitvoering – alles in geheel – postuleer vernuwende begripsinhoude in en deur musiek wat aangebied word in die vorm van die diskursiewe formaat van hierdie proefskrif. Die uitvoerings wat deel uitmaak van hierdie projek word aanlyn beskikbaar gestel aan lesers om na goeddunke te raadpleeg. Hierdie geskrewe en oudiovisuele materiaal dien as dokumentasie van artistieke navorsing (eerder as ’n uitsluitlike fokus op die musiekwerk as skepping en die uitvoering daarvan). Die video- en proefskrifdokumentasies staan voorts as kunswerktekste, wat herinner aan die kompleksiteite wat na vore tree wanneer artistieke produk transformeer tot artistieke argument. In hierdie studie word tematiese programering beskou as een van die wyses waarop kurators in museumpraktyk en in die visuele kunste te werk gaan om uitstallings te rig en aan te bied. Die projek stel voor, en ondersoek dan, dat kurering as teoretiese raamwerk, maar ook as ingrypende en kritiese benadering wat poog om konteks-sensitief te werk te gaan, konvensionele konsertpraktyke met betrekking tot Suid- Afrikaanse fluitkomposisies sou kon informeer en vernuwe. In ’n eerste fase van die studie ondersoek ek bestaande konsertpraktyke van fluitspelers wat oor die afgelope drie dekades hulself bemoei het met die uitvoer van Suid-Afrikaanse fluitkomposisies. Hierdie fase vors na in watter hoedanighede kuratorskap voorkom in konvensionele konsertpraktyk. In ’n tweede fase bied ek drie konsert-kurerings aan, en die prosesse van ontwerp, aanbieding en nadenke oor my aanbiedings behels drie van die hoofstukke in die proefskrif. Die tema wat ek kies om my klank-uitstallings te rig, naamlik landskap – en land – word beskou as ’n steeds kritieke situering van konflik en krises in Suid-Afrika, en daarom kan ek nie anders nie as om te vra hoe landskap my eie konsertpraktyk rig en verander. In hierdie studie neem die tema van landskap my nie net na ’n kritiese omgang met Pierneef se romanties-geskilderde landskappe nie; nie net na Johannesburg se onsekere en glyende spasie nie, maar ook na ’n suidelike stem wat dekolonialiteit as radikale stem tot sosiale transformasie verklank. Die instrument wat ek bespeel is tradisioneel en, volgens oorlewering, ’n mitologiese en pastorale herdersinstrument. Deur my konsertprojekte verkry die fluit (en fluitspeler) moontlik ’n ander stem, of soos Walter Mignolo dit stel wanneer hy oor dekoloniale aestheSis praat, ‘An Other Tongue’. Hierdie navorsingsprojek wys dat Westers-genoteerde komposisies ter plaatse kan ingryp, transformeer en getransformeer word binne die ruimtes van konteks-sensitiewe kurasies. Uiteindelik handel die navorsing ook oor die vernuwende moontlikhede wat artistieke navorsing open.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97579
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