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No. 4


Christopher Philip Ward, Contemporary Art Practice MA “By juxtaposing images of queer club nights with the patronising slogans of adverts aimed at cornering the pink ‘pound market’, these PVC prints seek to uncouple the mainstream understanding of queer culture.” (turn to pages 33-34 for more)


C o n t e n t s 4. Editorial

6. Foreign

8. Deconstructing Feminine Identity and Post-structuralism

13. Zerkalo

16. Walking Through Trauma

22. Review: Conversations in Letters and Lines

28. A Little Rush of Infinity

30. ESAF: Best Visual Artist

32: Is it True that We Are

35. The Body as Meaning

Becca Tarrant 2nd Year Painting

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EDITORIAL How do we know ourselves? As John Berger put it, ‘it is

who proposed that in the early stages of life, an

seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding

infant first understands themself to be a separate

world’ (Berger, 1972). We identify the self through

subject to the mother through the seeing of the

how we appear, how we dress, how we decorate the

child’s reflection in a mirror and coming to terms

space around us: our desks, our studios, our gardens

with it as being of the self (Lacan, 1966). Thus

and homes. All this we perceive through sight.

sight, the gaze and the act of being seen is key to knowing the self and our identity, stemming from

As part of his seminal essays collectively grouped

our earliest conception of the world around us.

under the title Ways of Seeing, the recently passed writer and art critic began by discussing how

How does this recognition of ourselves through

sight allows humans to understand themselves.

sight factor into visual art? Art is used to express

In essence he qualified that all that comes under

the feeling, narrative, personality projected by the

the focus of the eye is comprehended through its

artist, whether true or invented: in turn the viewer

relationship to the author of the sight. ‘We never

can recognise their own emotions, biography

look at just one thing; we are always looking at the

and character through the artwork. It is not only

relation between things and ourselves’ (Berger,

through the portrait that we find our identities,

1972). This is not specific to inanimate objects, but

reflected or altered by the artist, but also through

as Berger later discussed in his essay Why Look

the abstract, the performative and the surreal.

at Animals, of 1977, through other living beings

Through the intense, contemplative mode of viewing

also. In returning the gaze of an animal, by looking

dedicated to an artwork, the viewer is able to

and being looked at, according to Berger, the (wo)

reflect on his or her own place in relation to the art.

man ‘becomes aware of [her/] himself returning the look’, although there is a space between the viewers

In fact, the identity of the artist is often evident

that lacks awareness (Berger, 1977). Between two

through their creations. Jan van Eyck proclaimed

human beings this void is crossed through language,

himself to be present through an inscription ‘fuit

adding comprehension, sympathy and recognition

hic’; Michelangelo Buonarroti carved his name

to the exchange, whether through a shared tongue

into the sculptural sash of the mother of God;

or otherwise. These ideas are further developed

Diego Velazquez painted himself in the act of

through the work of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan,

painting, giving himself more prominence than

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his royal patrons. The notion of the artist as an independent genius has been prevalent since the Renaissance, after a history or artisanal workshops led by masters. In recent years these ideas have seen a revival. Judy Chicago’s momentous 1970s installation The Dinner Party involved a studio of hundreds of volunteers for its creation; likewise, both Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst are known for employing workshops (dubbed ‘factories’) of people to create their art. Yet still, despite the role of the artist changing from the hand of the maker to the brain of the thinker, the solo genius’ name continues to be revered and alone adds value. Through

our

words

and

visual

exploration,

Canvas’ fourth issue continues the consideration of identity in the arts, no matter the guise. Our contributors achieve this in many ways: from concepts of collective and cultural memory; to the identity of a city as a site for artistic intervention; to the deconstruction and the reclamation of the female body; and the self-representation of an artist and what he consumes. In our images, the creative minds of the Edinburgh student body have discovered identity, personal or otherwise, through representations of the body, mythical pasts, abstract pattern and still lives. Consider ways of looking and the art that follows on these pages could question preconceived

views

of

what

identity

means.

GEMMA BATCHELOR 4th Year Fine Art Editor-in-Chief

ΔΙΑΣΠΑΡΤΑ (Scattered) Zinon Kalfas 1st Year Fine Art

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f o r e i g n

Blythe

She was fascinated by the dead skin on her body; pieces of herself that flaked and fell away painlessly— sand that’s torn from rocks on shores eroded by a salty wind.

Lewis

4th Year

Loosened by her working teeth the over-grown layer on her lips would pull and twist to expose the young skin lurking under— harvest of a late-spring root pushed out by some new sprout below.

Sooner than they’d fully grown her nails would be snipped by busy fingers, bent like pincers to unwrap their hidden prey— trees misshapen, branches torn by creatures forging forest paths.

Philosophy and English Literature Callouses bred on hands and feet were worked on by stone and file, shrinking their size, but still she felt their roots extended deeper— mountains moved by storm and train their legs still planted miles around.

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You Swallowed a Beehive Lauren Frost 4th Year Fine Art

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Deconstructing Feminine Identity and Post-structuralism:

Through the language of advertising, that simultaneously

in Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen

‘living doll,’ and eventually crystallises her in an oppressive

evokes the conventions of arranged marriages, Plath’s poem ‘The Applicant’ explores the commodification of the female body. Reflecting on Betty Freidan’s seminal work, The Feminine Mystique, the poem reduces the feminine identity to its function, ‘it can sew, it can cook/it can talk, talk, talk’. The housewife role objectifies the female for she is a alchemy process— ‘in twenty-five years she’ll be silver,/

(1975) and Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Applicant’ (1962)

In fifty, gold’ (the stones echoing the symbols of anniversary celebrations) (Friedan, 2010). The repetitive diction and

F

inding influence in the philosophical, cultural and

hyper-simplified rhyme scheme creates a veneer of artificiality

social swings of the first half of the twentieth century,

that is indicative of the consumerist stylistics that dominated

the sixties and seventies invited almost constant

pop-art of the early 1960s. A similar tone is produced in

deconstruction and reconstruction of notions of feminine

works such as Andy Warhol’s 1962 Marilyn Diptych [Fig. 1].

identity that had been solidified over centuries of oppression. The depletion of the male workforce during the global conflicts

Similarly exploring ideas of feminist identity through the lens

in previous decades and the emerging liberation movements

of consumerist culture, Martha Rosler’s 1975 video Semiotics

initially challenged traditional female roles and inspired a

of the Kitchen, looks to destabilise the viewer’s conception

generation of female creatives to produce work. In the following

of traditional feminine roles [Fig. 2]. Placing herself in the

years visual artists such as Martha Rosler and poets such

position of a generic television chef and tracing the alphabet

as Sylvia Plath would analyse this emerging field of study.

with gestural cues adhering to distinct culinary practices,

Figure 2. Martha Rosler, Semiotics of the Kitchen, 1975, © Museum of Modern Art 2017 Figure 1. Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych, 1962, © Tate, 2017

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Rosler creates a visual acrostic poem through performance. Through this focus on language and meaning, Rosler challenges the limitations placed on female self-expression through a commercialised and artificial stock-character— an organic extension of the typical housewife image. The marrying of physical gestures to language therefore suggests a resistance to this silencing, shown in the way Rosler’s bodily actions become more violent as the piece continues. Just as Plath’s use of simplified internal and end rhyme aids the subversive nature of her critical voice, Rosler’s mixing of high and low cultures and the comic undertones of her acting similarly works to create an unnerving viewing experience. The manner in which the video appropriates the style of a cooking video before undertaking a highly critical standpoint, initially assimilates the viewer before exposing the actions as parody. To a certain extent both Plath and Rosler’s deconstruction of gender identity could be understood through a post-Structuralist reading, particularly in the way that they both attempt to expose how it is reliant on the semantics of language, and therefore meaningless. Plath’s opening stanza equates the body parts of sexual difference with artificial bodily modifications, such as ‘a glass eye, false teeth or a crutch’. In this way the speaker suggests that what is categorically understood as femininity is therefore in fact performative, as it is a cultural manifested concept that is dependent on language, which is in turn inherently meaningless. With the image of ‘rubber breasts or a rubber crotch’, Plath highlights this synthetic nature of the physical attributes that have socially constructed the feminine identity, particularly that of advertising and consumerist culture. Developed from the ideas of Simone de Beauvoir and later detailed in Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, Plath presents the identity of the female as constituted from its relationship to the masculine (Butler, 2006). Plath reflects this in her use of dialectic wordplay, suggesting that the female may be reduced to a ‘poultice’ to fill the male ‘hole’, specifically that the female exists deconstructed and un-solidified as an ‘image,’ only to exist when perceived by the male gaze or ‘eye’ (Plath, 2008). Similarly the use of video suggests the existence of Rosler’s character only when viewed by a spectator; the cooking demonstrator figure does not exist independently of the signifiers of the domestic realm. It is these signifiers that Rosler’s work aims to parody, just as Plath’s poem parodies the language of consumerism that makes commodity out of the female body.

Lucy Hook, 3rd Year English Literature

Following Pages: Click to Drag and Skin Slippage Stephanie Wilson Contemporary Art Practice MA

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Detail: Mark Rothko, No. 61 (Rust and Blue)

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Z e r k a l o Reyna Cohen, 3rd Year French and English Literature

In tenth grade, upon studying modern and postmodern art, I was told that Rothko’s most iconic works of the Color Field movement— that is, the patches of color featured in works like No. 61 (Rust and Blue) that recalled the paint swatches I brushed up in my newly-minted room earlier that year— were meant to act as a space on which we could reflect on ourselves, our lives and our emotional states. In essence, mirrors.

At some point later, I learned that beneath those topical color blocks were layers and layers of paint boarded up by Rothko over time.

If I pealed back each layer, chipped away at it with a pallet knife, would I peal back my own history? Would I see my mother and father meeting for the first time? My grandfather in his truest form: on the road, swinging to the jazz coming from his fingertips? Would I see my grandmother discussing with her grandmother in Yiddish in a cramped bedroom of their shared apartment?

I suppose, eventually, what I saw would resemble what Mark Rothko himself saw: he, an emigrant, Russian, Jew, artist, and eventually, American; me, American, writer, product of Jews and Russians and emigrants.

I suppose, eventually, what he saw is not that unlike what most Americans would see.

I suppose, then, that more of us ought to look into Rothko’s mirror.

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“It’s quaint how the essence of a person can be embodied in a plastic plant in an Air BnB room, or the manner in which the light falls on a draped cloth.”


Portrait of a Romantic Laura Dow 4th Year Fine Art


W(alk)ing through Trauma: Wolf Vostell and West Berlin in the 1960s

Laura Bowie Cultural Studies PhD

‘I think the most important thing…is to have shown to the public that art is discovering yourself.’ (Vostell 1981: 51)

While self-reflection dominated the protests and countercurrents of the 1960s, West Berlin was identified as a ‘city of realists’— a designation which sensitised the critical consciousness of its inhabitants to social reality (Roters, 1982: 48). The urban landscape of the post-war city underwent rapid change, with the destruction of tenements during and after the war, and the erection of modernist satellite housing settlements. This was used as evidence of a new ‘democratic’ ideology which visibly distanced the city from its recent past and was intensified due to its position between two competing world systems. These developments were imbued with fundamental concepts regarding Germany’s past, present and future, and artistic practices used this altered cityscape as a site for self-exploration. Wolf Vostell (1932-98) used the spaces of West Berlin as a vehicle for a critical analysis of the political and social stagnation masked by the post-war economic miracle (Schröder 2012: 228). To achieve this, he questioned how art could penetrate concrete reality and rediscover the complexity of existence with the aim of reconnecting people with the world on a fundamental level (Korte-Beuckers, 1999: 127). Vostell held the happening Berlin 100 Events: 100 minutes-100 points for a random audience at the Block Galerie in 1964. Although the action was based at the gallery, it extended out into the city itself, emphasising a desire to connect the materiality of place and the objects of daily life to the post-war landscape (Mesch, 2009: 176). The spaces of the city therefore became part of the medium as a carrier of information and a site which instigated both engagement and reflection (Korte-Beuckers, 1999: 194). In this way Vostell

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Vostell und Berlin (ed. Toni Stooss, 1982) signed with inscription by Wolf Vostell [Happenings are weapons in the politicisation of art]

was focused on developing a form of urban intervention which intended to alter well-known places in the city to allow the participant to experience ‘actual life’ bound up in both space and time (Heinzelmann, 2010: 138). His interest in the social implications of urban living led him to directly connect his work to the streets of Berlin where everyday life was taking place. For example, participants were asked to do such things as: 91 driving to wilhelm strasse 92 looking for a parking place 93 walking to the wall 94 strewing twenty pounds of sugar on western soil bordering the wall (Vostell 1966: 9) The function of Vostell’s intervention was to open up critical spaces within the city in which inhabitants could contemplate the cities destruction, reconstruction and traces of memory and trauma (Mesch, 2000: 96). Vostell said of his intention: ‘I consciously make individual ACTIONS and THOUGHTS into an aesthetic process and thus into an artwork. Nonviolent action and thinking in space and time are psycho aesthetic works, sculptures that pass from human energies, - important for every individual’s development of self-realization’ (Bosbach, 2012: 1). Vostell developed a means to express the processes of thought and action in aesthetics to re-examine a person’s relationship with the world. He believed that his audience learned to ‘live again’ by reconnecting with the essence of the city and incorporating this into their identity (Bosbach, 2012: 1). The intention is to make the observer an objective viewer of the world they are operating within by de-contextualising everyday events. Reflecting the mantra of the ’68 protesters, he strove to create a realm in which the personal became the political, and a more engaged urban dweller would have the opportunity to emerge.

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Vostell coined the term dé-coll/age which reflected his ideas of breakdown and disjuncture but also re-assemblage, which is linked to his aspiration to the ‘remembrance of daily life’ through phenomenological relationships with objects (Mesch, 2009: 57). The urban spaces of the city were areas where both destruction and renewal were in constant conflict; there was a desire both to salvage the city from the destruction of war but also to create a tabula rasa for modernisation. Through his concept of dé-coll/ age, the known was dissected and assembled with the new to decode and re-appropriate the spaces of the city to engender an analysis of the relationship between individual and the world (Bosbach, 2012: 5). The objects of dé-coll/age were linked to a particular place in the city and through their re-appropriation the former function of the object was removed from the object itself which altered the perception of the object and its function (Mesch, 2000: 93). This, in a neo-dadaist vein, meant that the objects of the city were critically considered, and by connection, the memory of the events that occurred within the city were also subject to contemplation— consciousness itself was employed as an artistic device (Roters, 1982: 49). The materiality of the dé-coll/age object also retained a link to the ‘real world’ whilst encapsulating the modernist tendency to refuse points of reference (akin to the modernist housing estates which showed their link to the idealised present but refused to refer to place) (Mesch 2000: 96). This link to the real allowed participants to face the trauma of the past whilst also retaining an objective distance. The gathering of found objects also became a performance between artist and audience, allowing for a collective reflection of past issues. The participants were both compelled to confront previously neglected or repressed places, but also to interact with them. The rallying call of the ‘68 protesters to fundamentally critique every aspect of existence was combined by Vostell with a discovery of the self by walking the streets that provided the context for urban life. In a post-war world which was heavily focused on the future, Vostell’s art forced a confrontation with both the past and present to construct a more engaged social existence. There was a deliberate attempt to reconnect the urban dweller to the city space, both to connect individual and collective memory to public space, but also to encourage a contemplation of the connection between man and his environment to instigate a more critical sense of identity in the post-war city. Vostell’s intention was that through this self-reflection the individual would ‘retreat into reality’ and become a work of art (Vostell, 1968: 1).

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W olfV st e LL


Tempelhof Airport, West Berlin. Text from 100 Events.

Bernauer StraĂ&#x;e, former border between East and West Berlin. Text from 100 Events.

f Vo

Interactive Map of Berlin: 100 Events

Images: Laura Bowie

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CONVERSATIONS IN LETTERS AND LINES: a critical review ‘We look at the present through a rear-

It is not surprising, therefore, that

a virtual divide between viewer and

view mirror. We march backwards into

collective memory and cultural hardships

artwork, the prevalent energy present in

the future’

are prevalent themes in both artists’

Kentridge’s works instantly dispels this

work. Although Kentridge’s compositions

divide. Upon entry to the secluded and

being screen-based stop motion works

ephemerally constructed dark rooms of

Time as a medium and time as a

contrast heavily with Koorland’s paintings

The Fruitmarket Gallery, the viewer is

method is an increasingly present motif

in tactile mediums, such as burlap and

instantly absorbed into Kentridge’s

throughout art history. Specific examples

linen, both practices are highly infused

multi-sensory artwork. The artist is

include, documentary photographers

with strong material impulses. Koorland’s

renowned for his stop motion sketches,

such as Dana Lixenberg that are

canvases stretch the length of the gallery

often created using charcoal and one

returning to their original photographic

walls and are pinned up with industrial

core colour, such as azure blue. He often

sites twenty-two years later; artists such

nails—a process which demands great

employs characters to embody the

as Ilana Halperin that are collaborating

labour and resonates with the viewer

political agendas explored in his work,

with scientists and exploring notions

absorbing the work. She also employs

attested by one of his most renowned

of deep time; and artistic practices

textual elements in her work through song

films and characters being Felix in Exile.

that are socially rooted and therefore

or poetic extracts, which encourages the

As the pages of the book in the artist’s

constantly increasing with significance

viewer to manoeuvre around the pieces

animation turns, the viewer is invited into

over time while echoing changes in the

and emphasises the physical sensation

a process of erasure and reversal,

social and economic climate (Lixenberg,

through the human body. As the viewer

whereby the sketched lines of charcoal

2015). Time as a medium can be both

attempts to discern the written texts and

disappear to leave behind an empty

intentional and arbitrary, and in the

poems it becomes evident that they evoke page. This urge to remove and reverse

case of Vivienne Koorland and William

a sense of cultural longing and loss. As

suggests Kentridge’s impulses to

Kentridge’s practices it exists organically

she currently resides in New York, the

perhaps banish moments and memories

(Groom, 2013).

work highlights clear allusions to her

of the past.

—Marshall McLuhan, 1986

departure from this South African heritage Evolving naturally, notions of time

(Koorland, 2017).

This sense of hidden histories and

develop in the dialogue between their work and form one of the several common threads that are highlighted in the Fruitmarket exhibition. The visual conversation that has ensued across the two bodies of work originates in their cultural and historical roots, specifically as they both attended university in South Africa during the mid-1970s. With

silenced narratives is also present in

TIME AS A MEDIUM CAN BE BOTH INTENTIONAL AND ARBITRARY, AND IN THE CASE OF VIVIENNE KOORLAND AND WILLIAM KENTRIDGE’S PRACTICES IT EXISTS ORGANICALLY.”

Kentridge studying in Johannesberg

Koorland’s canvases. Her paintings are sketched from the drawings of Holocaust victims, created prior to their tragic end. As the basis for one of Koorland’s canvases, there is a young boy’s note to his mother, spelling out his love for her alongside a vase of naïvely drawn flowers. Regarding this piece with the knowledge of this heavy history, the

and Koorland studying in Cape Town, it

Like Koorland’s tactile canvases,

canvases take on a darker and more

was inevitable that the political climate

Kentridge’s depictions are highly

somber context. Alongside this air of

of Apartheid would hold significant

reminiscent of the studio, despite their

visual tragedy, a hair-raising song can be

influence for both.

projection on screen. Although this creates heard from Kentridge’s videos.

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Credit: Fruitmarket Gallery

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Credit: Fruitmarket Gallery

A powerful female voice fills the gallery,

Conversations in Letters and Lines is

They remove the viewers from their

restoring both hope in the viewer, as well

therefore a three-way dialogue—the third

comfort zones and push them to their

as sparking their curiosity and baiting

angle being the curator pushing and

emotional edges. They interrogate

them into the secluded rooms that house

pressing both the artists to divulge and

cultural history in a manner that is so

the Kentridge projections. As Director

reveal elements they may not otherwise

physical and material-based, it seems as

Fiona Bradley discusses, both Kentridge

have, had it not been to a friend. A strong

though the history and hot atmosphere

and Koorland work with ‘the material of

sense of intimacy and trust is therefore

of South Africa could step from within

history’— the sense of their motherland

evident throughout the exhibition, most

the canvas into the Fruitmarket sphere.

is instilled and prevalent in both artistic

explicitly in the collaborative canvas

The gallery breathes with the historical

practices (Bradley, 2017). Additionally,

Kentridge and Koorland created.

impulses and pulses with the artistic

both bodies of work focus on the notion

vibrancy. Conversations in Letters and

of ‘unmaking’ and ‘unseeing,’ which,

They both applied ink free-hand to

Lines is by no means a peaceful and

although more clearly demonstrated in

linen—Kentridge depicting his motif of

easy exhibition to circulate, but the

Kentridge’s processes of erasure, is also

the tree and Koorland her favoured text.

challenges and questions it poses in

present in Koorland’s material layering.

This was the only collaboration present

relation to society, racism, class and

Koorland never works on a bare canvas,

in the exhibition, but like the entirety of

violence are still as prevalent today as

rather, she works through a process

the show, this piece demonstrates the

they were during the violence of the past

of layering, which echoes the built-up

trust and the give and take the two artists

(Bradley, 2017).

histories and narratives embedded in her

allow each other. Although Kentridge is

work (Koorland, 2016).

perhaps more renowned in this country than Koorland, the matter is entirely

It is rare for an exhibition to have artists

irrelevant to Conversations in Letters

who hold a life-long friendship with

and Lines. Both bodies of work confront

the curator, yet in this instance Tamar

the viewer with difficult and challenging

Garb has known the artists almost as

themes.

long as they have known each other.

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Camilla Irvine-Fortescue Modern and Contemporary Art History, Curation and Criticism MA


Andrea Christodoulides 4th Year Painting

“I love acting. It is so much more real than life.� Oscar Wilde As a Cypriot artist, my work is inspired by my Greek-Cypriot culture and heritage, the search of my own true identity, the enchanting power of stories and myth and the repercussions of the recent war in Cyprus. The mythical and the unreal trigger my imagination and create what I consider a good story. I am intrigued by the way stories are formed through our own thought processes of understanding and imagination. My canvas works like the theatre stage, a defined space in which a series of open and closed narratives are enacted. The characters seem to come to life and what I plan for them is not always what they become; this unpredictability is what I like about the creative process.

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Craig Waddell, 4th Year Photography


Even

in an oeuvre rife with self-portraiture,

there are few of Edvard Munch’s paintings that better illustrate the construction of the persona of the artist than Self-Portrait With Burning Cigarette [Fig. 1]. Painted in 1895 at the height of Munch’s infamy, it is a characteristic mix of selfaggrandisement and self-pity. Munch looms over the viewer from a void that stresses his otherness, ostracised by his peers for his misunderstood genius (a theme Munch rarely tired of). Yet Munch himself is not the star of the show. Rather, one’s eye is drawn to the painting’s centre and indisputable focal point—the titular cigarette—its prominence suggesting that Munch ‘invited the spectator to transfer the cigarette’s associations onto himself’(Berman, 1993: 627). It is these associations that merit a reading of the work as an effort to define artistic identity, examining the affinities between art and cigarettes and

examining

the

way

Munch

predicates this identity on three cultural touchstones

linked

with

cigarette

smoking— bohemian, dandy and hero. As Richard Klein identifies in Cigarettes are Sublime, the canonical text of nicotine addiction and the primary lens through which this essay will examine Self-Portrait, cigarettes in art have always been associated with bohemia. Additionally they have often pushed smokers to the outskirts of society, due to their negative connotations. The first cigarette proffered in a novel appears in Merimee’s Carmen, bringing with it the glamour of the seemingly exotic gypsy life from which bohemianism sprung (Klein, 1993: 110). Linked in fin-de-siècle moralising to insanity and the perceived scourge of moral degeneration alongside long-established concerns over physical health, the most immediately evident purpose of Munch’s cigarette is to flaunt his opposition to these bourgeois theories that condemned him (Berman,

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1993: 642). It is not merely its centrality that invites this reading,

but cements the artist’s reputation of a figure not of manual

but what the cigarette seems to replace; in conventional self-

skill but of visionary, transcendental experience and thought.

portraiture one may expect to see brushes or palettes where the cigarette sits, perhaps suggesting that through this substitution

If cigarettes kill time, the meaning is twofold—that they are poison

the importance of the artist’s bohemian, anti-bourgeois identity

requires addressing, and it is in Klein’s discussion of soldiers

rivals that of their output. Indeed, this substitution, when one

and smoking that one can identify another facet of Munch’s

considers the (lack of) purpose of cigarettes, arguably becomes

artistic identity. ‘In every puff there is a little taste of death…

subversion, and transforms Munch from bohemian to dandy.

[creating] the illusion that the death of all our dreams is willed, is chosen that the execution is really a suicide,’ Klein states,

Despite extolling their virtues, Klein admits the uselessness of

again finding visual expression in Self-Portrait (Klein, 1993: 141).

cigarettes— they are expensive, they only exacerbate the need

Representing oneself alone in darkness has its own history, with

for themselves and they kill you. Yet, he argues, this is key to

notable contributions from Durer and Rembrandt, but few spaces

their beauty. ‘The dandy carries aesthetic refinement to elegant

are as overtly deathlike as Munch’s—the ghoulish blue glow that

lengths by beautifully performing activities that are absolutely

appears to consume Munch’s lower body confers upon the artist

not worth doing’, he states, and cigarette smoking is the perfect

a ghostly pallor. And yet nowhere in the upper half of the painting

example (Klein, 1993: 43). Furthermore, Klein’s faith in the

is this blue that consumes him more strongly applied than in the

meditative

power

of

the

ritual of smoking, arguing in

comically

grandiose

terms that popping out for a fag ‘allows one to open a parenthesis in the time of

ordinary

experience…

[and] procures a little rush of infinity…an ecstatic standing outside of oneself’ suggests, but disappointingly does not explore further, a deeper parallel

between

painting

and smoking (Klein, 1993: 16). ‘A parenthesis in the time of ordinary experience,’ ‘a little rush of infinity,’ ‘an ecstatic of

standing

oneself:’ all

outside of

these

‘A Little Rush of Infinity’

:

Artistic Self-Image and Edvard Munch’s Cigarette

phrases could just as easily apply to immortalising an image of the self in painting

smoke curling from his cigarette and

dispersing

across

the

canvas. If Munch is eaten away at by and less clearly defined against the darkness than, say, Durer in his 1500 self-portraits, it is not for lack of confidence. Rather, Munch holds the key to the hellish flame that consumes him between his fingers, and just as Klein’s soldiers do, thus gains a certain dominion over it. If their uselessness is what lends cigarettes to dandyism, it

is

their

deadliness

that

suggests an apparent heroism, and here this final piece of Munch’s artistic identity falls into place. Like the smoker, the

Samuel Love 3rd Year History of Art and English Literature

as they do to smoking.

self-portraitist

acknowledges

death in their vocation and attempts to control it, to step

Indeed, it is almost surprising that Klein makes no reference

out of their mortality and preserve their own little ‘rush of infinity’

to Munch’s self-portrait, so perfectly does it dramatise his

by controlling its ability to annihilate. Munch’s cigarette functions

philosophy. Not only does the act of painting mirror the act of

symbolically by drawing attention to the all-powerful, heroic

smoking, but the content, with Munch seeming to exist in a

nature of the artist. Munch did not instigate the relationship

timeless, limbo-liked void with nothing but his cigarette, makes

between art and cigarettes, but his self-portrait is intriguing in

visual Klein’s link between cigarettes and transcendental

its exploration of existent associations to construct the artist

experience. Munch’s cigarette not only parades his opposition to

as bohemian, dandy and hero—an identity which, judging

a bourgeois work ethic by supplanting the tools of his trade with

from the innumerable crushed butts decorating the ECA

a symbol of aristocratic uselessness and bohemian otherness,

arches, continues to exude its glamour to artists even now.

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India Pearce 4th Year Illustration

Winner of the Edinburgh Student Art Festival’s Best Visual Artist Award An illustrator at ECA, India creates impactful imagery, using vivid colours and bold textures, influenced by ideas of morality and ethics. Recently her work has orientated around issues of climate change, questioning the direction it is taking Earth’s environments and the species that live on the planet, including ourselves. More of her creations can be found on our central spread as well as at: http://www.pearce.studio/

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off my rough edges sharpened against books even my looks are not mine. Even my choices I did not choose. I feel that I might lose if I drift from the road that my others chose for me. Oh, but my others, they sing songs I do not know, they speak of worlds I have not seen, they think in words so hardly mine. Who knows? Helen Redman Psychology of Mental Health MSc

In rigid Indian families, basking in culture tradition pride, who knows what it was like

It is true that we are It is true that we are

what it felt like when your brother, the prince, the duke,

born unfairly raised unfairly praised unfairly provisioned with religions that are not ours, bonded to laws we never imagined, subjected to perspectives we did not narrow, encumbered by sorrow, which we are shown can be felt. Somebody has dealt and is dealing, and will deal, the cards unfairly — a thick deck there,

the heir, was shielded, protected, celebrated, cared, you and your sisters sat around, stared — I do not know their story. I do not even have sisters or brothers — I am the only prince, duke, heir, a recipient of Enid Blyton and anti-reality care a recipient of the dark roof above my pillow and cake for my birthdays a recipient of international but Western standards of education a recipient in every sense of the word raised better than a son what have I gained without my others, my others, who I do not know?

a thin one here, a dog-eared joker provoking our fears. It must be true that we are that I am that I have been raised into this person praised into my ego turned

It is the truth that I have nothing to call my own the trees outside my window have grownw Only after the rain, And the two of them are different. One is alive, and the other Is dead.

to turn out well burned

Vishwani Chauhan 1st Year Medicine

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The Body as Meaning: Reclaiming the Female Body from the ‘Male Gaze’ In Imogen Ashby’s essay The Mutant

The artists approach the long, complex

Woman: The Use and Abuse of the Female

history of female figural representation from

Body in Performance Art, the author asserts

opposing angles, claiming agency over their

that ‘the [female] body, as opposed to

own bodies whilst simultaneously calling

the mind, has come to signify meaning

attention to the pervasive ‘othering’ of foreign

for us’, whereas for men the opposite is

cultures by the West and highlighting some

true (Ashby, 2000:39). This fundamentally

of the everyday misogynies afflicting women

gendered differential - that man is mind and

in an apparently liberal society.

woman body – has a consistent narrative throughout western history and is easily

Hatoum’s video installation Corps Étranger

traceable in its visual culture. It illustrates

is an invasive endoscopic exploration of the

the institutionalised heteronormative

artist’s body projected onto the floor of a dark

imbalance of power between the active

cylindrical pod with a clinical, white exterior.

(male) surveyor and the passive (female)

It is important to acknowledge first off that,

surveyed, particularly noticeable as regards

however unusual, the work is a portrayal of

the female nude. This so-called ‘male gaze’

the female body. The camera, directed by

foots a visual history of women as passive,

the artist, makes a minutely detailed survey

idealised and often hyper-sexualised objects

of her entire body, exploring each hair and

and is so ingrained in visual culture that its

crease of her skin along with the wet, fleshy

legacy problematised the representation

insides of her every orifice. The journey is

of the female form, even as it was being

seemingly unbiased, giving no preference

reappropriated by female artists (Berger,

to eye, oesophagus or womb as it casually

1972: 45-64). Mona Hatoum and Tanja

dives into her labyrinth of organs, probing

Ostojić both confronted this issue in

then re-emerging to investigate another

their respective artworks Corps Étranger

avenue. Although occasionally afforded a

(1994) and Looking for a Husband with EU

glimpse of some recognisable feature, the

Passport (2000-2005) which centre around

microscopy of the camera coupled with its

representations of their own naked bodies.

continuous, snaking movement obfuscates the viewer’s preconceptions of what any

Sophie Porter

body should look like, let alone one which is specifically assigned female.

History of Art and Architectural History Graduate

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The scientific origins of the endoscope

Her stance is neutral, her head and pubic

also aid the artist in distancing herself

area are completely shaved, and her

from the traditions of the nude, the artist

expression is blank, looking directly out

being, rather, ‘naked’ and natural. As her

at the viewer. To the right of the image, it

body reacts uncontrollably to the invasion

reads ‘Looking for a husband with a EU

of the foreign object, the artist is freed

passport’ and in a black band across the

from any unconsciously learned notion

bottom are the words ‘Please send your

of performativity toward the ‘male gaze’.

applications to hottanja@hotmail.com //

It could be argued, therefore, that the

Do not hesitate to contact me with any

artist has removed both her conscious

further questions or details’. This was

‘self’ from the artwork as well as the

the image that Ostojić disseminated as

preconceived notion of ‘body’, leaving

a personal advertisement looking to find

only a dehumanised study of a living,

a husband who could grant her the EU

amorphous being. The obscurity of the

citizenship denied to her as a national

footage renders it almost impossible for

of the Former Yugoslavia, marking the

the viewer to project any sexual desire

beginning of a five-year interdisciplinary,

onto it and, instead, forces them to reflect

biopolitical project (Ostojić, 2009,42).

on their own corporeality to the sound of

The image is undeniably sexual, aligned

the artist’s pulsing blood. In the work’s

strongly with calling cards used to

rejection of the traditional language

advertise sex workers and wrought with

of female figural representation and

connotations of fetishistic pornography.

with the abstraction of the body almost

The allusion to sex is more explicitly

outwith recognition, the artist succeeds

addressed in a later part of the work: a

in releasing her own body from the

video documentation of the artist and her

sexualisation of the male-inscribed nude,

future husband’s (performed) ‘first date’,

presenting herself as simply ‘living’.

including their first sexual encounter. By knowingly adopting the traditional

At the core of Tanja Ostojić’s Looking for

male-inscribed aesthetic of the nude,

a Husband with EU Passport is a front-on

Ostojić utilises it to achieve a specific

photograph of the artist standing naked

goal for herself. In doing so, she subverts

against a white backdrop.

the traditional power dynamic, claiming agency over her own body and sexuality.

“As her body reacts uncontrollably to the invasion of the foreign object,

Mona Hatoum, Corps Étranger, 1994. Video stills.

The artist is freed from any

unconsciously learned notion of performativity 36

toward the ‘male gaze’”


The image clearly addresses the entrenched patriarchal belief that her (female) worth is based on her desirability but, instead of being treated as merely an object for (male) consumption, she willingly offers herself up to the viewer, making no pretence at hiding her motive of sexual/political exchange. As such, she is simultaneously condemning the gendered inequality addressed by Ashby and manipulating it for her own gain.

“By knowingly adopting the traditional male-inscribed aesthetic of the nude, Ostojić utilises it to achieve a specific goal for herself.

Tanja Ostojić, Looking for a Husband with EU Passport, 2000-2005. Photograph (personal advertisement).

In doing so, she subverts the traditional power dynamic, claiming agency over her own body and sexuality.” Both Corps Étranger and Looking for a Husband with EU Passport are far more complex than this brief introduction can give them credit, exploring themes of xenophobic oppression and marginalisation; the invasiveness of burgeoning cosmetic and medical procedures for women; the double standards and prejudices surrounding prostitution and the porn industry; and the latent misogyny in advertisement. Additionally, by each addressing and subverting the sexualisation of the ‘male gaze’ tradition, Hatoum and Ostojić assert agency not only over their own artistic representations of their (female) bodies, but over the bodies themselves.

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History of a Medium (1971), Eduardo Paolozzi.The University of Edinburgh Art Collection. © Jonathan Clark Fine Art, Representatives of the Artist’s Estate

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This programme collaborates with National Museums Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland, Talbot Rice Gallery, The Fruitmarket Gallery, and the University of Edinburgh’s own Special Collections.


Canvas is generously supported by the Edinburgh College of Art and the History of Art Society. For more information on the artwork featured in the journal and full references for articles please visit our website and our Facebook page, where you can also find past issues and details on future submissions.

Front and back cover image: Ella Yolande Porter, 2nd Year Intermedia “The image shows me in the womb, surrounded by a still of close up footage of me at only a few months old, going back to the basic essence of how I am here.”

STAFF Editor in Chief: Gemma Batchelor Head of Editing: Samantha Ozer Team: Marianne Wilson Claudia McPhail Sumedha Vashistha Susie Curtis Web Editor: Sophie Porter Head of Art Panel: Liselotte Dossenbach Team: Ainne McGuinness Michelle Wolodarsky Laura Dow Suzie Anthony Head of Production: Florence Richardson Team: Oona Buttafoco Stephanie Jin Alys Gilbert Sasha Mather

“Influenced by the disruptive elements of our current socio-political climate, my art practice centers around the use of mythological and science-fictional elements pulled together to create reflective dystopian composites.” Perrine Davari, 5th Year Fine Art


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