The artwork is not present: An investigation into the durational engagement with temporary artworks

Kromholz, Sophie C. (2016) The artwork is not present: An investigation into the durational engagement with temporary artworks. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis presents a conceptual knot, namely of how to sustain the intentionally temporary. Part of the original contribution of this thesis lies in exploring what it means for an artwork to be temporary, tracing the historical context from the twentieth century onwards, thereby establishing the category of temporary artworks, and providing thoughts on how to care for temporary artworks so that they might be known and experienced by future audiences. On the basis of this research, a practical proposal is developed for what a retrospective of temporary artworks might look like.

Temporary artworks should be considered as a category unto their own because of the specific set of constraints which set them apart: they are physical works of art which exist for an intentionally limited amount of time, and are created only once. These specific constraints problematize the engagement of future audiences due to the works’ very limited and singular existence as a physical work.

In order to address the issue of how to (re)visit impermanence, I develop the claim that what is passed on from a temporary artwork is contingent on the stakeholders, including the primary audience, who are posited as a group of unintentional archivists holding stock in a type of living archive. After their material unmaking, temporary artworks can be experienced through the notion that ‘the artwork is not present’, a riff on artist Marina Abramović’s retrospective work The Artist is Present (2010). A retrospective of temporary artworks would consist of memories and documents contextualizing their fragmentary nature, highlighting what Severin Fowles discusses as ‘the carnality of absence’. A clarification of what is missing assists in sustaining what I develop and describe as ‘the performance of loss’, a critical part of temporary artworks. Stewarding a temporary artwork into the future thus depends on letting the material object go, and contextualizing its presence, loss, and absence for future audiences.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Temporary artworks, experience, conservation, memory, documentation, presence, absence, loss.
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NB Sculpture
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Supervisor's Name: Fiske, Dr. Tina and Nichols, Dr. Tom
Date of Award: 2016
Embargo Date: 25 October 2019
Depositing User: Dr. Sophie C. Kromholz
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7716
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2017 10:58
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2017 14:54

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