The fantastic as a critical modus
What is your research (essay) about?
My 'grand' research is build around questions regarding the possibilities of the romantic concept of the Fantastic in a contemporary critical arts practice. How - for instance - can the Gothic be utilized as a cultural strategy to give voice and/or shape to present day socio-political problems? Why is it that works which strongly depend on the application of the Fantastic are often regarded as pulp in the era of their production, while decades later they are seen as important indicators of socio-political movements and tensions of that certain era?
In my essay "Beyond George Stringwood: collected writings" I combine a few things pertaining to the field of research as described above. Firstly I look into the narrative potency of the Fantastic. The Fantastic is mostly used within a narrative context, and even when it isn't - within the context of a painting f.i - it brings about a narrative connotation to the work. Secondly I studied how the fantastic plays a role in arts practice - as a starting point I use Bas Jan Ader's performance “In search of the miraculous”. Thirdly I defined a group of concepts forming a description of the Fantastic based upon a thorough comparison of a more or less randomly selected group of works which utilize the Fantastic in one way or another. The definitions of these of concepts form the basis of the thesis. What is also extremely important in my thesis is the format. I interweave fact and fiction: I use fiction to communicate whatever could be regarded as 'fact' in the light of my research. Finally I play with the official format of a thesis; the system of notes, the list of literature and the critical improvements provided by the controlling organ.
Which findings do you consider most important?
Since I would place my thesis more in the realm of the artwork than in the realm of a scientific document, the idea of 'findings' stays relatively abstract. What I can say is that I feel to have succeeded in using analytical theory in a productive manner other than proposing another analysis from the former.
In my specific case that means I learned to utilize the fantastic in a critical way. Through the simultaneous study of literature, semiotics and the concept of performativity I was able to draw a layered system of communication in which the affect enjoys a great deal of responsibility. This 'responsibility of the viewer (or perhaps even consumer)' is the most important gestation I had during my MA.
Do you currently use the research findings?
Yes, finishing the MA or writing the thesis in no way meant finishing the research. Its thorough artistic nature probably contributes to its durability. As a matter of fact, I'm working on a large research-based project with curator Maaike Gouwenberg at the moment which directly relates to my MA research. We're looking at the possibilities of the Gothic as a cultural strategy in different cultures which brought forth a tradition in literary Gothic. The ideas around the Fantastic and the use of narrative find their basis in my MA research.
How do you look back at the year at MaHKU?
My overall feeling is very positive. Especially when regarded in the light of the level of education at (some of) the Dutch Fine Art BA's (practical AND theoretical), the system of guest teachers, the encouragement to compose your own list of literature, the possibilities to invite speakers and teachers and the way we worked towards our final presentation in BAK all contributed to a dense and fruitful year. Next to the relatively strong base in theory, things like working towards an exhibition and the possibilities for extending you private network all contributed greatly to my position as an artist today.