Drawing on the Past. Implicit:Explicit:Complicit
"Drawing on the Past" is a doctoral project set around the making of a series of short, drawn films. Five films have been made in this period. "Bully Beef" (2006), "Off the Record" (2008), "Heir to the Evangelical Revival" (2012), "Orlandos Book" (2012), and "Perth+6hrs" (2012).There are four simultaneous lines of research in this project. The first is the desire to find an engaged position from which to speak about the past. The second is an attempt to characterize the nature of these short animated films. The third is to articulate methodologies and decision-making in this particular artistic practice. The last is to investigate writing as an integral part of that practice. The first line of research is the one that was set out at the start of the doctoral project. The task I had set myself was to find a more personal and positioned relationship to the contested histories with which I was wanting to engage. My concern was that I was standing outside of the frame and criticizing European colonial and neo-colonial attitudes towards Africa, without questioning or making visible my own position in those histories. I was keenly aware that my own history as a South African of settler origins put me in a rather delicate position as a critic of colonial and neo-colonial attitudes of another country. I felt that this position needed to be examined and that my films needed to engage more rigorously with my personal relationship to and role in these histories. The second line of research relates to genre and characterizing the nature of my work. Much of the search during this period has been directed towards determining what kind of investigation my films are, and what kind of discourse I enter by making the films. The search has been to locate my work with that of other similarpractitioners, who may or may not be visual artists. I needed to explore what it was that I have been borrowing from particular genres or disciplines, from documentary, history, fiction, visual poem or film essay. The third line of research is about articulating methodologies and decision-making in this particular artistic practice. It is about making tacit knowledge explicit. There are many elements involved in making a drawing, animating a sequence, editing a film, adding sound or exhibiting a film that are seldom articulated. The research has been an attempt to better understand and communicate the complexities of these processes. The fourth line of research has been to investigate writing as an integral part of this artistic practice. The Postings emerge out of experiments with different kinds of writing. Instead of producing a single work as a thesis I chose to structure reflections on my practice and research in the form of 52 letters. The format of these thought-pieces allowed for a piece-by-piece construction, similar to the manner in which I make the drawings that make up the films. The introduction of a process journal early on in the research process encouraged a form of note-making on issues of relevance to the making of the films. Because these writings are based on the process journal and studio experience,they are intimately connected to practice. It took seven years to get writing to a point where it was a part of this practice rather than an explanation of finished work. Writing now runs alongside and intertwines with drawing and the other activities that are part of the process of making a film. It has become an essential component of my practice.
Exhibition: "Implicit:Explicit:Complicit", KADOC chapel, Duth college, Anatomic theater, Louvain (8 march - 21 april 2013)
Supervisor: Hilde Van Gelder
Co-Supervisor: Maarten Vanvolsem
Duration: completed 2013