• The Sitting: (after) If this is a Man

Leon, Josh, 2023, Thesis, The Sitting: (after) If this is a Man PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

How can we use lament as a space of criticality to open methods and conversations regarding reparative, restitutional, resistance and peripheral histories? And once we have begun to work from this space how can lament enable us to remain and work within [it] articulating silences and absences found there? How can we then bring lament into contemporary art and writing practices and find new formulations for what lament can offer as a methodological approach within these fields?

Rooted in Primo Levi’s memoir If this is a Man and the Jewish mourning ritual of the Shiva, this research project is built out of an ontology of Jewish thought before growing into a theory of the dispossessed and displaced. Producing an original embodied methodology known as lamentology, which takes the lament found in the shiva and proposes research and practice as an unfolding, continuous and on-going live event.

The central theories of this practice are structured around Derrida’s notions of hospitality, the address and shibboleth, enfolding Irit Rogoff’s concept of smuggling within this to consider what diasporic approaches to writing and artistic practice can be. In conjunction with this, notions of fugitivity are employed throughout the work employing Moten and Harney’s theories to propose a reparative method that works for the past in the present. These concepts are brought into relation to Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of minor literature, reframing the minor as operating beyond the field of literature under the terms of the periphery and the unseen.

The Sitting: (after) If this is a Man is an embodied project that entangles research and practice, through a concern for ‘liveness’. The work functions between the fields of institutional critique, diaristic writing, poetics and the exhibition, through which theories on ontology, ethics, and deconstruction are encountered.

This practice displays itself by employing the date as a mechanism to allow different forms of written documents (poetic, essay, proposal, aphorism) to combine, producing an unfolding ‘memoir on the move’. Through this labour materials and histories are found, encountered, examined, and experimented with. As such language becomes material, the form of the exhibition is called into question, conversations and exchanges become mediums, collecting is used as a method and the archive is readdressed as a poetic and gestural space. These practices and behaviours provide the fundamental framework for lamentology, situating its dissemination within art and writing contexts.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Funders: AHRC (LAHP) [2244718]
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lament; Transparency; Restitution; Jewishness; Subjectivity
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2023 15:46
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2023 15:47
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5507
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