Panel Title: Art and Material Culture in Prehistoric Europe
Convenors: John Robb (University of Cambridge) and Chris Gosden (University of Oxford)
Paper Title: Socio-Creativity and the Neolithic
Paper Short abstract:
What role did creative practice play in social life at the Neolithic tell Çatalhöyük, and what evidence is there to suggest that making informed the maintenance of the 'social bond'?
Paper Long abstract:
What role did creative practice play in social life at the Neolithic tell Çatalhöyük, and what evidence is there to suggest that making informed the maintenance of the 'social bond'? Socio-creativity is an undeveloped but important area of research for archaeological approaches to the Neolithic, and offers a unique opportunity to consider both individual and community dynamics, tensions and changing social values from the residues of material interactions. Utilising the work of Bennett (2010a), Barad (2003, 2007, 2012), and Gell (1998) I formulate a critically-informed but practically embedded methodology that finds material "phenomena" (Barad 2003) at the settlement. Çatalhöyük offers a particularly unique example of social organisation as it is believed to have been an egalitarian settlement (Hodder 2014a,c). Furthermore, the material culture provides us with a rich dataset that contains the traces of highly creative and materially-engaged individuals who routinely made and r e-made things, such as sun-baked clay figurines, basketry, and beads. I focus on Neolithic interactions with colourful or brilliant materials, substances, and spaces, and explore how these material interactions, as phenomena, reveal certain sensorial dynamics in-action at the Neolithic town. I outline how creative practices can create certain sensory dispositions - ways of seeing, feeling and doing - and I argue that the senses can be profiled during making events (cf. Howes and Classen 1991).
Two of the anthropology students I worked with on the 'Theory, Methods, Practice: Critical Perspectives' module at UWTSD had their undergraduate research showcased at Parliament for the Posters in Parliament event. Stephen Moyes presented his work on using remote audio elicitation methods in ethnographic interviews and James Barker considered the therapeutic benefits of green spaces. It was great to see cutting edge undergraduate research showcased at the heart of government.
PAPER Theoretical Archaeology Group 2017, "Doing time: Ontogenesis, causality, and the life-matter predicament"
In a recent critique of the New Materialist discourse anthropologist Tim Ingold (2014) raises concerns regarding the lack of life, growth and movement in the approach. Instead, Ingold encourages researchers to explore the “variable dynamics of ontogenesis”, that is to say: the work that brings things into being (2014: 234). In this paper I draw from Karen Barad’s approach to ‘phenomena’ and Ingold’s focus on work, and present a video artwork that spotlights human-material interaction. The art work focuses on the human-artist working with a large lump of malleable matter (2 kg of pink play dough). I contend that how we envisage ontogenesis hinges on the issue of causality. Barad’s (2003, 2007, 2012) agential realist approach collapses the causal gap by presenting entities as in-phenomena (see Marshall and Albert 2014). Through examining theoretical approaches to human-material interactions such as Malfouris’ discussion of hylonoetic space (2014), Ingold’s morphogenetic approach (2013)and Barad’s (2003) intra-actions, I aim to examine time as a ‘doing’ and highlight some questions archaeologists should consider when attempting to ‘see time’
Green Spaces are areas set aside in urban environments where grass, trees, and vegetation are actively encouraged and cultivated for community use. Through visiting and depicting different green spaces across England, Eloise Govier explores the value of 'green infrastructure' in urban areas.
Experimental work 2017. Details to be released soon.
PAPER Theoretical Archaeology Group 2016, University of Southampton. "Bodies that Co-Create: The Residues and Intimacies of Vital Materials"
Title: "Bodies that Co-Create: The Residues and Intimacies of Vital Materials"
At the Neolithic town Çatalhöyük in Turkey, carbon is often found in burial contexts. It is argued that carbon found on the ribs and vertebrae of human remains is a by-product of a lifetime of smoke inhalation (Andrews et al 2005: 277). The inhalation of carbon from the smokey hearth, settles in the lungs. But as the lungs decay, these carbon residues - intimately hosted by the lungs during life - remain embedded within the burial context. These substances are the residues and intimacies of material interactions, and I argue that their presence epitomises the futility of the “life-matter binary” (Bennett 2010: 20). To quote Jane Bennett: “[it is an] oxymoronic truism that the human is not exclusively human, that we are made up of its” (Bennett 2010: 113). The vital relationship between these materials manifest in, and on, the Neolithic body. This paper brings together data gathered from ethnographic research carried out in collaboration with performance artist Suze Adams, and the vital materials found in burial contexts at Çatalhöyük. Whilst thinking through these material interactions, I follow on from Karen Barad and reject the “Cartesian cut” (2003: 815), and offer an analysis that interrogates the vital materials that blur the "surfaces" and "horizons" of the body.
Eloise Govier will present 'Plastic Earth' at the 'Sightations Cafe', Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference 2016, University of Southampton.
Solo exhibition at the Welsh Assembly's Pierhead, Cardiff.
In keeping with our committment to reducing Carbon emissions by 2020 along with the Sustainable Energy Charter, this exhibition sees Ceredigion artist Eloise Govier explore the changing energy landscape of Wales through a new collection of paintings and sculptures that respond to Wales Now. Environmental Historian Dr Jill Payne (Associate University of Cambridge and the AHRC 'Power and the Water Project: Connecting Pasts and Futures') contributes commentaries on the paintings that explore the changing aesthetics of energy. The exhibition of new paintings and sculptures considers different forms of energy sources (both new and decomissioned) in the contemporary Welsh landscape. By marking the presence of these structures in the historical records the exhibition acknowledges, reflects, and celebrates the changing landscape of Wales. The exhibition specifically wishes to create intergenerational discussions; particularly on matters close to the Welsh Assembly Climate Change Engagement Strategy for Wales. Energy efficiency is of particular government concern with the development of an energy efficiency strategy launched (consultation Oct 14-Jan 15) and a clear committment made to reducing Carbon emissions by 2020. The exhibition highlights the changing landscape and how this is intertwined with the Sustainable Energy Charter and low carbon ambition as outlined by the Welsh Assembly.
The Cartesian Cut? exhibition reveals and unravels the boundary of the body. The title of the exhibition relates to the philosopher René Descartes (1596―1650) who made a clear distinction between the mind and body. Contemporary philosopher Karen Barad problematises his boundary, calling it the ‘Cartesian cut’ (2003: 815). Contra-Descartes she offers an understanding of entities not as unique beings but ‘phenomena’ in constant ‘intra-action’ (2003: 815).
It is the search for the 'cut', the place where I end and you begin, that has inspired the works in this exhibition. The pieces present unique imaginings and interpretations of the workings of bodies. The findings of these investigations are simultaneously familiar and yet unknown. The artworks act as vignettes about bodies becoming.
John de Mearns executes paintings on glass that utilise skin and paint to create unique residues of the body mid-action. Daniel Witnicki draws complex fantastical worlds of intertwined humans and things. Lou Baker exhibits her soft-sculptural forms to acknowledge the transition between (m)other. Laura Waite contributes finely modelled sculptures that imaginatively capture the organs that form in the cavities and voids of the body.
In our search for the cut the body is abstracted and metaphysically explored. Nikki Allford’s site-specific Body Mapping traces the rhythms of the body by revealing complex layers, forms and patterns. The piece simultaneously calls to mind the fat of the body and charts the artist’s movement in and through the exhibition space. Eloise Govier’s melting sculpture physically captures the daily shedding of skin and hair in a piece that holds and transforms unique body information.
The exploration extends to the digital body. Rowan Evans and Maisie Newman create a digital apparition, a new morphing body that slips between embodiment and disembodiment. The piece juxtaposes the alive and the digital body to explore the anxiety of occupying digital space. The exhibition also hosts Ellie Harrison’s Tea Blog, an online digital artwork that archives a fragment of what Harrison was thinking about every time she had a hot drink between 2006 and 2008. A total of 1650 thoughts were recorded on the microblog, formed in the days before Twitter. The work archives a spatiotemporal nexus of tea and ideas: a body or body part caught in cyberspace.
The living body is on site too. Not only in Evans’ and Newman’s spoken poetry but also through Suze Adams’ performed artist residency that presents the artist at work. Her material trails will grow and accumulate during the exhibition as she commences her piece At One Remove.
The exhibition invites you to think through and with bodies.
Welcome to the Cartesian Cut? exhibition.
Original Concept: What is the body? Jane Bennett in her seminal piece 'Vibrant Matter' reminds us of the colonies of bacteria that inhabit the crook of the human elbow and how they moisturise the skin and help with the movement of the arm (2010: 112); Bennett remarks: “the its outnumber the mes [!]”. This exhibition will interrogate the 'Cartesian Cut' - the division between the subject and the object - by blurring the boundary between the two (Barad 2003). The exhibition will contribute to this discussion by bringing together works by artists who are playing with ideas about the 'porosity' of the body and who are exploring the possibility that we are an “array of bodies” (Bennett 2010: 112). The exhibition is curated by Eloise Govier for the Fringe Arts Bath Festival 2016, Bath (27th of May - 12th June) and will include her ice and dirt performance sculpture 'The Cartesian Cut?'.
"HYPER COLOURISM" Welsh Art Movement Launched in Cardigan Brasserie Aberteifi 20.5.16
Artist Eloise Govier is launching a new painting movement called 'Hyper Colourism' through an exhibition of new works in Cardigan on the 20th May 2016. The artist explains: "essentially 'Hyper Colourism" captures the intense, vivid, and vibrant colours that are used in the paintings. "Hyper" is used to indicate the extreme contrasts in saturated colour."
The artist is launching the works with Liz & Andy Baker at the Cardigan Brasserie Aberteifi, which was established in April 2015. Previously, Liz & Andy set up and owned Pendre Art Gallery & Coffee Shop in Cardigan, before selling the business in 2012. Liz comments "Eloise was our most promising and exciting artist who we represented at the gallery at Pendre Art, and we staged various successful exhibitions of her work during the eight years we ran the business. We have watched her career develop over the years, and her work has now been widely appraised in Wales & much further beyond".
On show will be a new collection of paintings inspired by the Preseli mountains.
If you are interested in attending the Private View on Thursday 19th please contact email@example.com
Exhibition of paintings by Eloise Govier (2009-2014 works) at Ffwrn, Fishguard.
Ffwrn is a beautiful café with a wood fire bakery and bar, and is run by wonderful owners Beatrice and Rhodri. The café is housed in a building that was formerly St Mary's Church Hall and is situated in the heart of Fishguard town centre. Ffwrn is a hub of cultural activity, and is the best place to find good food, coffee and creative company.
Eloise and Beatrice finally managed to meet in 2016, after several years of trying to cross-paths. Together they curated a collection of paintings from pieces that remain in Eloise's back catalogue, some of which have only been exhibited once, and some have never been seen beyond the studio walls. The tiger paintings, and café scenes inspired by trips to continental Europe (2009-10), are the core themes of the works exhibited. Eloise is delighted that her paintings are on show for the Fishguard community; a place that is only a stone's throw from Cenarth, where she was raised.
More details about FFwrn
The COLOURSCAPE LAB seeks to understand how colour shapes and informs our daily practices and how these change temporally and geo-spatially. Experiments employed at the LAB consider ideas regarding 'colour control' (Lancaster 1996) and colour language.
The method developed in the LAB is called 'colourscaping' and introduced as an ethnographic technique to aid the formation of multi-sensorial narratives.
The project is inspired by Hayward and Kennedy's 'Colourground'; an art/science investigation which creates socio-geographic paintings by “colour mapping” urban environments. Professor Paul Haywood came to the COLOURSCAPE LAB at the Arnolfini and talked about his project Colourground to the group.
The light studio at the Arnolfini, Bristol, hosted the first COLOURSCAPE LAB. In the session participants explored the potential of 'colourscaping' as an ethnographic method. The participants - a group of Artists, Makers, and Anthropologists - interrogated the method and united to form an Advisory Board for the development of Colourscaping.
During the COLOURSCAPE LAB participants individually created and explored colour profiles that corresponded to individual and shared perceptions of the environment and the body.
The “Colour Me Cardiff/ Lliwia Fi’n Llandaf” exhibition launches on Saturday 16th April 2016
Two Welsh artists are launching a joint exhibition of intensely bright neon paintings and sculptures at Off the Wall Gallery in Cardiff.
Artists Eloise Govier and Swci Delic share a passion for bright neon colours. "We have a mutual obsession with strong contrasts, fluorescent colours - the need for neon - it is a passion shared".
The artists work at the interface between Expressionism and Pop/OP Art and both utilise contemporary digital and traditional art methods.
Eloise comments: 'I think collectively there is something unique in the way we are interacting with colour, its like a hyper use of colour", Swci adds “it's colour on colour on colour".
Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is cited as one major influence. The artists discovered they had both seen Kusama's show at the Tate Modern in 2012. "You can see the influence Kusama has had on us, we were both blown-away by that exhibition and how she used colour and pattern in her paintings and installations”.
"We've both been really productive over the last few years, pulling together the show has been easy as our art works amazingly well together. There will be loads of paintings and sculptures - it will be a smorgasbord of colour, light and form - a feast for the eyes!"
"We realise that our combined work might be quite overwhelming. But our shared aim is to spread a bit of joy, positivity, and have people going "wow" when they enter the space.
Colour has an effect on our feelings of wellbeing and our lives far more than we realise. Our aim is to exhibit our works together to create a huge colour impact on the senses!"
On the collaboration Eloise states: "I have admired Swci's work for a while now, I love her gutsy approach to art. I always thought our work would be punchy together - exhibiting at Off the Wall Gallery together is an excellent opportunity to showcase how we see the world in the Capital”.
Swci says “It’s fantastic to find an ally in an artist I admire who has a similar outlook and feel in her art - I think it’s going to be an exciting and slightly bananas exhibition to brighten up the Cardiff spring after a dreary wet winter."
Swci Delic was formerly the Welsh language singer Swci Boscawen, who’s career came to a sudden end after collapsing with a brain tumour in 2010. With no previous experience of art, she found her curious creative path in painting as she battled the condition. After intense cancer treatment and “being to hell and back" Swci developed an inexplicable urge to start - and never stop - painting. She says:
“As I tried to come to terms with this new way of life, the emptiness I felt without music was replaced by a huge, burning desire to paint. My brain wanted to create big bold patterns and use as much colour as possible. I became obsessed. I dream about painting; I do art because it’s compulsory - I can’t control it. My name conveys the psychedelic nature of my art. With this incredible second chance at life I took it and ran.”
Swci Delic works from her studio in Carmarthen and her large collection of works acts as an ongoing exercise in colour therapy. The artist mixes her own paints, frustrated by the choice of colours on offer. She experiments with emulsions, neon powders and acrylic to create vibrant, one-of-a-kind colours to examine the role that colour plays in our lives and tries to convey the impact it has on our ‘all over sense of well being’. The result is a body of work which is bold, psychedelic, contemporary, fun and larger than life. Works on show will include a painted armchair, which has never been exhibited before and a fun collection of fluorescent gnomes sculptures.
Swci Delic has previously exhibited at Carmarthen’s King Street Gallery and Galeri Caernarfon, was resident artist at Newton House during the Dinefwr Literature Festival, was commissioned to prepare a major work by The National Eisteddfod, prepared artwork for a number of Welsh musicians and created a line of limited edition footwear and textile cushions. She’s been featured in various press and media outlets including The Metro, The Western Mail, Golwg, BBC & S4C.
Eloise Govier grew-up in Cenarth and works from her studio in Ceredigion, she is known for her trade-mark paintings of thick swathes of colourful oil on canvas. The artist also creates installation art pieces, notably her 'Ticker-Tape' series where the artist moves and places brightly coloured bricks across socially significant spaces. The artist has exhibited and created installations and live performances both nationally and internationally in places such as the UNESCO Carl Legien Housing Estate in Berlin, Amsterdam, Japan, and the Millennium Square in Bristol in collaboration with the AT-Bristol Science Centre and the BBC Big Screen (Bristol). Eloise has been interviewed by BBC and S4C and various newspapers and magazines about her work.
Eloise will be exhibiting huge neon "blood" paintings that capture in oil the artist on a molecular-level (Govier describes these as "self-portraits"), paintings of Port Talbot and a range of experimental drawings either drawn on aluminium oxide or digitally produced.
Future plans Both artists have a busy summer ahead of them:
Eloise is curating the 'Cartesian Cut?' exhibition for the Fringe Arts Bath and organising a one day experimental 'Colourscape' workshop for anthropologists and artists at the Arnolfini, Bristol. The artist has solo resident art shows at Cardigan Brasserie and Ffwrn Fishguard opening in April and May.
Swci’s condition still drives her obsession with creating new pieces. Her illness limits her to just two shows a year, which has increased the rarity value of her works when seen on display.
Limited edition "goody-bags" will be handed out at the press conference and opening of the art show on the 16th April.
Off the Wall Contemporary Gallery, The Old Probate Registry Cardiff Road Llandaff Cardiff CF5 2DQ.
Mae’r arddangosfa “Colour Me Cardiff / Lliwia Fi’n Llandaf” yn cael ei lansio ar Sadwrn Ebrill 16eg 2016. Gwaith dau artist o Gymru sydd yn y sioe a rhyngddynt byddant yn arddangos darnau o'i celf liwgar a llachar yn Oriel Off The Wall yng Nghaerdydd.
Mae’r artistiaid Eloise Govier a Swci Delic yn angerddol am liwiau llachar. Mae arddull y ddau arlunydd rhywle rhwng Mynegiadaeth a celfyddyd Bop ac mae'r ddau yn cyfuno dulliau traddodiadol a dulliau digidol modern.
Yn cael eu arddangos gan Swci bydd darnau newydd sbon sy’n cynnwys cadair wedi ei beintio a chasgliad o corrachod lliwgar ynghyd ar beintiadau mawr arferol. Bydd Eloise yn arddangos lluniau enfawr o dan y teitlau “Gwaed”, lluniau o Bort Talbot a chyfres o luniau arbrofol wedi ei chynhyrchu’n ddigidol neu wedi ei arlunio ar alwminiwm oxide.
Eloise coordinated the workshop: ‘Vibrant Materialisms in the Ancient Near East’ at BANEA 6-8th January 2016 University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter.
New Materialisms is a theoretical position currently taking root in contemporary archaeological theory, simply put, New Materialists acknowledge ‘thing power’ (Bennett 2010: 20) and attempt to place ‘things in the centre’ (Witmore 2014: 206). In such readings plaster walls are not regarded as ‘mere vehicles’ (Witmore 2014: 203) for understanding past cultures, nor are they simply seen as “a derivative of some monopolizing agency or ontologically privileged entity” (2014: 204) Instead, the emphasis is placed on things themselves being participants and not ‘mere intermediaries’ (Witmore 2014: 204-205). This workshop is looking to explore vibrant contemporary theoretical stances from a practical position, and asks how are these innovative theoretical positions and methodologies being applied to the archaeological dataset found in the Ancient Near East today.
Abstracts are particularly welcome from those working in Cognitive Archaeology, Symmetrical Archaeology, New Materialisms, Material Agency, and Assemblage Theory. This workshop also seeks papers from individuals who question - even reject - the value of such theoretical positions. In the spirit of ‘lively matter’ (Bennett 2010: 111) it is hoped that the workshop will lead to provocative, inspiring and informed discussions, with the intention of recognising the value of contemporary theory through the careful analysis of both practical and theoretical application in the Ancient Near East.
- Title: An Introduction to the New Materialisms
- Author: Luci Attala, UWTSD
Introducing the theoretical concepts underpinning the new materialisms approach in the Humanities.
- Title: The (Im)materiality of Water: Theorizing Water Management of second-millennium Anatolia
- Author: Kyle Egerer, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
The materiality of water is conditional. Depending on local topography and climate, water has both material (i.e. physical and infrastructural) and immaterial (i.e. abstract) ramifications that vary over space and time. Thus tracing water’s (im)materiality diachronically is even more burdensome. This contribution attempts to understand the human enterprise of water management in Anatolia by investigating the political ecology surrounding it during the second millennium B.C., applying a philosophical, phenomenological approach informed by the concept of cultural memory. In that light, it details cognitive archaeologies and the material agency of water within an ancient near eastern context. To do so, water’s conditionality is established through a nuanced perspective of its physical and imagined – or conceptualized – place within the Hittite cultural landscape. By considering several second- millennium sites, their corresponding places within the natural Anatolian landscape via digital elevation models, as well as primary source material such as law codes, royal edicts and myth that collectively inform us about several facets of Hittite society, I develop a framework for conceptualizing the reciprocity between water and the human, social, technical devices that influenced it. Such a dialectical outline facilitates our understanding and perspective of the resource during that time. Ultimately, this contribution illustrates that there is no prescriptive, archetypal model for water management in Anatolia, because depending on the resource’s presence within the landscape, it influences the specific social and infrastructural measures taken to control it and vice versa. To that end, both the practical, materialistic side of water management and the related theoretical perspectives are discussed.
- Title: Materials and Materiality in the Neolithic Eastern Fertile Crescent
- Author: Dr Amy Richardson, Wainwright Fellow, University of Oxford.
From the formation of the small, seasonal encampments of the Epipalaeolithic, to the complex villages of the Chalcolithic, the Neolithic represents the rise of sedentarising communities finding new ways of working with materials to create built environments, to develop tools, and to construct ideologies of cultural practice and representation. Innovation and familiarity with materials afforded new skills and technologies. Clay, stone and bone informed the development of new lifeways. Ideas spread, changed, and evolved in reflexive ways as people and things interacted. Through analysis of the material worlds of Neolithic communities, we can trace the routes, the social pathways, and the consequences of these engagements. This paper examines the networks of materiality in eastern Iraq and western Iran, through the cultural transformations of the tenth to sixth millennia, as people and materials together constructed new worlds. Throughout the Neolithic, people, things, skills and technologies moved between settlements, weaving together cultural meshworks that connected widely spread communities. Across the Eastern Fertile Crescent, these networks covered hundreds of kilometres, connecting the remotest sites high in the Zagros Mountains of Iraq and Iran. The earliest settlements were well 50 located for access to water, to fertile valleys and plains, to hunting grounds, to good sources of limestone, chert, and clay. The rich outcrops of the mountains provided marble and alabaster, serpentine and quartz, bitumen and ochre. These materials shaped the communities of the first sedentarising peoples, their homes, their daily activities, and their understanding of the world. From the late tenth and early ninth millennia, sites in the uplands of Iran demonstrate concentrated use of the immediately available material resources. At Early Neolithic sites such as Sheikh-e Abad, Chogha Golan, and Ganj Dareh, homes were built from packed clay earth. At East Chia Sabz, the rocky limestone of the Zagros landscape directed the construction of buildings from rough cobbles of dry stone. Through the course of the Neolithic, these simple and direct engagements with the material world evolved into more complex relationships. Obsidian tools, shell adornments, and beads made from exotic minerals circulated with increasing frequency. By the late Neolithic, people were moving large quantities of materials around the landscape; clay was brought to rocky areas for construction, or finished ground stone objects were transported to settlements far from the outcrops of the mountains. The affordances of particular materials became indispensable to established lifeways. The exchange of these materials, sometimes across great tracts of difficult terrain, helped to bring communities together, consolidating relationships through material ideologies.
- Title: Body, Mind, Object...
- Author: Dr Louise Steel, UWTSD
This paper interrogates the boundaries between matter, with the aim of unseating the Cartesian privileging of the human mind and body within our conception of the material world. The starting point is the notion that people experience the world through their body and that this body/object relationship shapes the mind. Exploring the fluid, mutable relationship between mind-body—thing it questions how materials/matter/substance transform and extend the boundaries of our body schema. Drawing on a range of objects from the LBA settlement of Arediou Vouppes, Cyprus (grinding stones, gaming stones and pottery) this paper seeks to examine distributed personhood and aims to elucidate how the material world physically and tangibly shapes people.
- Title: Vital Materialisms at Çatalhöyük
- Author: Eloise Govier, UWTSD
During her discussion of agential realism Karen Barad provocatively asks: ‘[how does] matter make itself felt?’ (2003: 810). Barad argues: “to figure matter as merely an end product rather than an active factor in further materializations, is to cheat matter out of the fullness of its capacity” (2003: 810). Bennett, in her seminal piece Vibrant Matter, similarly begins with matter by describing everything as ‘materials’ (2010). During her ‘onto-tale’ Bennett states: “materiality is a rubric that tends to horizontalize the relations between humans, biota and abiota” (2010: 112). The New Materialisms turn has renewed our interest in the power of matter, and this perspective has also made an impression upon archaeological interpretation. In an attempt to illustrate the usefulness of this approach for archaeology, this paper will examine the material remains of creative practices at the Neolithic town Çatalhöyük from the perspective of a vital materialist.
'Making, Experiencing, Becoming: More than Human Debates'
A discussion with Luci Attala (Lecturer Anthropology Department, UWTSD, and Green Gown Champion) and Eloise Govier.
Both Luci Attala and Eloise Govier presented papers on their latest research and shared interest in the porous boundary of the body. Luci focused on 'dust' whilst Eloise considered the vitality of household 'dirt'. Individually they explored moments when these substances enter, become, and leave the body. Eloise's performance sculpture 'The Cartesian Cut?' - a congealing, melting, and becoming form - provided a unique visual stimulus for the discussion.
During the seminar Eloise referred to the work of anthropologist Alfred Gell (1998), who argued that being an 'intentional' entity is not a pre-requisite for being an agentive entity, as agency is realised ex post facto ('from after the action'). What you intend to happen does not necessarily happen (I throw a ball to Louise, it hits the window), therefore, in terms of agency, what matters is what interrupts the 'causal' mileu (Gell 1998, 20). The smashed window is an expression of my agency. Gell used this argument in his outline of the agency of art and objects (or 'material agency' as described by Knappett and Malafouris, 2008). Professor David Cockburn (Philosophy Department, UWTSD) provided a philosophical challenge to Gell's work. A vibrant discussion ensued.
Exhibition proposal 'Cartesian Cut?' submitted to Fringe Arts Bath 5.10.15.
Exhibition title: “The Cartesian Cut?”
Curator/Artist: Eloise Govier
The human body sheds ‘stuff’. Skin, hair, other dirt it collects on itself... the body sheds stuff! Some of these bits are ‘microartifactual’ and can only be seen at the end of a microscope. And yet despite its invisibility, our most vital information is caught inside and amongst it in the form of DNA.
This art project searches for artworks created by ‘forensic artists’ who are interested in exploring the boundaries of the body. The exhibition wishes to interrogate the ‘Cartesian Cut’ - the division between the subject and the object - by blurring the boundary between the two and showing the processes of the body as intra-actions (Barad 2003).
The exhibition will include Eloise Govier’s piece ‘The Cartesian Cut’ which is a durational performance sculpture made of household dirt frozen in hand-made stalagmite shaped molds using lurid energy drinks to create size-able structures that melt. By freezing these substances together the artwork holds together collective body-information (the essence of community?) but by allowing the ice-forms to melt the piece sustains the idea that these are ongoing durational process continually unfolding in and around us.
This artwork, along with other pieces included in the exhibition, wishes to raise the following questions and discussions:
• What are ethical implications of sharing dirt? Are these social rather than legal issues? My own research suggests people find the idea of bits of our shedding skin being incorporated into an artwork as invasive and something that requires permission; despite the fact that being human means we leave a trail as we go through life.
•What is the body? Bennett in her seminal piece Vibrant Matter reminds us of the colonies of bacteria that inhabit the crook of our elbow and how they function to moisturise the skin and help with the movement of the arm (2011: 112); Bennett remarks “the its outnumber the mes [!]”. The Cartesian Cut? shares contemporary thought on the ontological re-framing of the body as an “array of bodies” (Bennett 2011: 112) and wishes to play with ideas about the ‘porosity’ of the body.
•What things are closest to us? By utilising commercial products made to consume, such as Gatorade and Lucozade, the artwork brings together things made intimate by human interaction; the things that consume and go through us with the things that are dispensed and shed from us: to interrogate the body as it emerges.
Title: Becoming Earth? Feeling and hearing invisible plastics.
Abstract: On a recent trip to Sea Mills Floodplain in the Bristol area to stake claim to litter - in this instance a polystyrene boulder lying in ruin - researchers from the AHRC 'Power and the Water' Project commented on the sound of plastic crunching beneath their feet as they walked across the grass. The experience of walking across the landscape had revealed that the appearance of the green growing land was deceptive, for it squeaked and crackled from the build up of invisible plastics lying beneath.
Inspired by this interaction with the environment, I invite 'fellow travellers' (Ingold 2013: 96) to walk on grass inside the workshop space. The interactive sculpture is made from an area of turf (1m x 1m) loaded with invisible plastics beneath the grass. Participants are invited to explore our contemporary relationship with plastic by entering correspondence (2013: 7) with material via the artwork. We will use this engagement to think from the body (Ingold 2013: 94) and recognise, perhaps even reconfigure, our relationship with plastic.
Eloise's sculpture 'Trajectory Three' 2015 (found riverine/marine litter, mixed media) is displayed at the Festival of Nature 2015, Bristol in association with Dr Jill Payne, Power and the Water Project. Eloise will be on site with collaborator Dr Jill Payne on the 13th June 2015 to talk about their current work together.
Paper: 'Recognising and Reconfiguring Our Relationship with Plastic', AHRC Power and Water Project Workshop
The AHRC funded 'The Power and the Water' Project invited Eloise to give a paper at their project workshop held at the University of Bristol, 7-9 June 2015. Her paper focused on her practice-led research and pieces that she created in collaboration with Senior Researcher Dr Jill Payne (Cambridge).
Paper: 'Vital Material Engagements: Interactions, Participation and the 'Ticker-Tape' art installation', ASA 2015, University of Exeter
Short Abstract: This paper explores the role of 'Artist' as 'Anthropologist' and considers the types of learning outcomes available when the artist offers co-authorship of their work to their students.
Long Abstract: 'Ticker-Tape' is an art installation created by Eloise Govier to spotlight and generate discussion on areas of contention in the public domain. Ticker-Tape was launched in April 2013 and has been executed in various sites across Europe; ranging from a large-scale public art installation in Bristol's Millennium Square to a UNESCO-protected modernist housing estate in Berlin. The artwork involves the moving of fluorescent bricks around a space, and the interaction between bodies and bricks creates a spectacle that beckons bystanders to bear witness.
Recently the artist offered co-authorship of the piece to a group of Level 4 anthropology students partaking in the 'Interactions with the Environment' course at the Lampeter School, University of Wales Trinity Saint David. This paper, taking inspiration from Tim Ingold's bold claim "Know for yourself!" (2013), examines participatory art as a method of experiential learning in an HE context.