Medium (un)specificity as material agency – the productive indeterminacy of matter/material
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractIn this article, I consider some of the debates brought to the fore by the proliferation of recent textile focused exhibitions; namely the tension between a continued allegiance to medium specific conventions and the richness, hybridity and heterogeneity afforded by the post-medium condition of contemporary art. Through a new body of sculptural and installational practice I propose a constellatory opening up of textile in which the medium specific can be (re)mapped in a fluid and fragmentary way. Drawing particular reference from Adorno’s conception of the constellation and mimetic comportment, this model of practice involves a mode of behaviour that actively opens up to alterity and returns authority to the affective indeterminacy of the sensuously bound experiential encounter. This is manifest through a range of practice strategies - “thingness”, “staged (dis)contiguity”, and the play between “sensuous immediacy and corporeal containment” - which mobilise a precarious relationship between processes of attachment and detachment. Acknowledging the critical currency afforded to textile through feminist and poststructuralist critique, the work moves away from “a rhetoric of negative opposition” and predetermined discursive frameworks, returning authority to the aesthetic impulse, privileging the ambiguous resonances of an abstract sculptural language over more overt strategies of representation.
CitationBristow, M. (2018). Medium (Un)specificity as Material Agency—The Productive Indeterminacy of Matter/Material. Textile, 16(3), 266-286.
PublisherTaylor & Francis
JournalTextile: Cloth and Culture
DescriptionThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Textile: Cloth and Culture on 22/03/2018, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14759756.2018.1432133
Author's note: This article developed out of a paper that I was invited to present at 'The Matter of Material' conference convened by Professor Lesley Millar MBE, Director of the International Textile Research Centre and Professor of Textile Culture at the University for the Creative Arts. Hosted by Turner Contemporary in Margate in April 2017, the conference brought together academic researchers, makers and curators to discuss the role of textiles in contemporary art practice. The conference was a parallel event to 'Entangled: Threads & Making' (28 Jan - 7 May 2017), a major exhibition of sculpture, installation, tapestry, textiles which included artists from different generations and cultures who challenge established categories of craft, design and fine art, and who share a fascination with the handmade and the processes of making itself. The paper provided the opportunity to disseminate ideas explored through PhD research entitled ‘Pragmatics of Attachment and Detachment: Medium (Un)specificity as Material Agency’ (completed March 2016), ideas that I was invited to develop for the article that was published as part of a special edition of 'Textile: Journal of Cloth and Culture'.
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