Practice in my PhD

I have returned from Nottingham Trent University, where I delivered a presentation around the role of practice(s) in my PhD. The audience and the other presenter, were particularly fantastic, but the event left me ever so slightly slapped. Some members of the audience gave me a bit of a hard time over the photographs. True, they were photographers, so they were working to very particular standards. Two thoughts, however, came into my mind as they were speaking against my images and my eyelets (and I was trying to remain calm)

1. There seemed to be a consensus around the seductiveness of the text and no questions around this were asked. The criteria, however, seemed to change in relation to the images. ‘These don’t seduce me’, was the argument. Why is it that we demand so much more of the image than of any text? What’s wrong with mutilating an image with eyelets? Since when are car crashes not seductive?

2. Most of the day addressed the notions of Art, Practice and Research, especially in relation to a PhD. The ex-centric quality required to undertake one was noted, but still the argument circled around speciousness and good/bad art. Who establishes these? Why would they have a bearing on a PhD? Why were my images judged so harshly on pictures of a gallery which contained my pictures? What has become of the encounter with the work of art?

I do agree that certain elements related to my performative text (that went down well) and my images (not so well, but a nice chap seemed to be absolutely thrilled when I told him my plan for a book of blurs) and seduction will need to be thought through. How do they inform each other? Do they work together? Is the text enough (I think not, but will need argument)? If I show seduction, will I have to forfeit process in the final submission? Then, what about the objects that did not work, that did not seduce but were so useful for my research? I told my students once that what you leave out of a PhD is as important as what you chose to put in. I am feeling it now.

The best bit of the day was, without a doubt, though, my supervisors’ support and the beer I had with them afterwards. What would I do without them, or beer…

Photo of the week:

Robert Mapplethorpe. Louise Bourgeois holding her Fillete, 1982