Traces, boundaries, surfaces: an investigation through art practice of institutional sites with particular reference to a former lunatic asylum
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This doctoral research project by art practice examines a former site of exclusion, a nineteenth-century county pauper lunatic asylum, in particular its methods of containment and coercion. It involves an initial unearthing of narratives relating to the site's histories, including its recent redevelopment as a gated residential community, and consideration of other similar institutional settings. An exploration is subsequently developed through appropriation and interrogation of spatial and durational processes involved in selected mechanisms of control, and the impact of their repetition on those present, constituting the core of this practice-based research, and evidenced in the artworks arising from the enquiry. These are described and considered through a text in which methods and approaches are articulated and reflected upon. Through art practice and related theoretical research the concepts of trace, boundary and surface contribute to this engagement with site, i. e. trace as: movement; association; memory; unconscious material; and inhabitation, provides one trajectory, whilst exclusion - predicated on the existence of boundaries, whether physical, perceived or psychological - provides another, including the ways in which boundaries come into being, function and are transgressed. Surfaces and surfacing - as symptom and meaning - provide a further interlinking theme for the research.
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