Embodied dreaming in the archive

Gaffney, Sheila (2014) Embodied dreaming in the archive. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice. ISSN 1753-5190

Abstract

This article accounts an artist’s project that questions, through practice, whether objects from the past, in archival conditions, can enable us to read the present. It employs a life writing method to evidence how my own idea of the psychic dimension of practice within the production of sculpture exists, but is as yet unaccounted for, in the historical overviews of making and teaching sculpture in Britain. The article interrogates a sculpture project using the psychoanalytical ideas of Christopher Bollas, and I use a sculpture project of my own as a case study to make this claim. Through writing, I retrieve the actions, methods and processes involved in making sculpture as I know it. I write through a personal project Others (Bradford Museums and Galleries, 2009), developed through an artist-in-residence commission, to analyse and interpret my sculptural practice as it was performed in, with and through an archive situation. I show how writing, which is not the moment of the production of art in this practice, is an appropriate form to record the complexity the project, that is not always accessible in the artefact at the moment of public exhibition. I acknowledge how a photographic record does satisfy as a method of observation, description, process and action, but propose that this particular reflective writing approach enables deeper and more detailed identification and articulation of the theory within the sculptural artefact.

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