Complicated grief: how orphanhood drives practice based research of an artist-inmourning

Trackim, Alysia Anne (2019) Complicated grief: how orphanhood drives practice based research of an artist-inmourning. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

This work explores “Grief” and “Orphanhood”. It does so via the use of a practice based artistic exploration of these unfathomable and ongoing dimensions and describes the impact of them on the authors life, in both personal and shared public contexts.
It does this by drawing attention to many complicated facets of both phenomena in order to capture, in whatever way possible, the authorial experience of negotiating the difficult presence of each within their life. The only appropriate term for this concept is that of ‘complicated grief’. A term used by psychologists such as Robert Neimeyer in attempts to understand grief as a greater function.
The thesis includes reflections touching upon therapeutically-inclined models of the grieving process stretching from Sigmund Freud to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Lois Tonkin. Philosophical thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger, and Roland Barthes also greatly influenced the author. These intellectual worlds are then reflected back onto the creative practices of the artists whose work accompanied the author throughout the PhD project: Uta Barth, Jordan Baseman, John Cage, David Dye, Mark Rothko, and Michael Wesely.
The narrative progressively explores concepts that complicate one’s experience of grief. Moving through other widely used descriptors and coining the original notion of ‘absent-presence’ it explores the underlying distinction between two other authorial concepts: ‘aloneness’ and ‘non-aloneness’. These terms carry huge import and greatly influence the author’s ability to ultimately accommodate their understanding of grief.
Appropriately then, this practice-based PhD project takes the form of a sustained photographic project involving the physical complications of Polaroid technology, allied with a ‘stream of consciousness’ narrative that produced a chapterless thesis through which the authorial intent to reflect an actual ebb and flow in the complications that constitute their grieving and orphanhood is realised in the reader.
The thesis cannot be considered separately from the exhibitions, nor the creative journey that underpinned the creation of each, for they are one, separate yet intrinsically linked and indivisible. However, the “absence” of the photographs in their entirety is the point, the authorial intent in including limited Polaroids being to once again use the process of the readers journey through the narrative about their creation as a physical metaphor that invokes the frustrations felt in being forced to rely on incomplete memories that constitute fragments of a presence now absent.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fine Art, Death, Absent-presence, Self-narrative, Bereavement
Subjects: W100 Fine Art
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2020 09:49
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2020 10:00
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/44750

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