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Look down, look up : Barbara Bolt's art beyond representation

Raitt, George 2005, Look down, look up : Barbara Bolt's art beyond representation, Double dialogues, no. 1, Spring, pp. 58-67.

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Title Look down, look up : Barbara Bolt's art beyond representation
Author(s) Raitt, George
Journal name Double dialogues
Issue number 1
Season Spring
Start page 58
End page 67
Publisher Double Dialogues
Place of publication Canterbury, Vic
Publication date 2005
ISSN 1447-9591
Summary I review the thinking of Barbara Bolt in her recent book, which is informed by Martin Heidegger’s theory of art. Bolt argues that it is in the flux of art practice, where the artist responds bodily, with hands and eyes, to the encounter with the materials of practice, that visual art produces real material effects. That is, through the praxical encounter, art does not merely represent, it performs radically. Bolt thus argues for a materialist ontology of the work of visual art. I examine what Bolt means by ‘real material effects’ and ‘radical performativity’.

In developing my own project on the poetic response to visual art, particularly portraiture, I have freely adapted Heidegger’s theory of art to propose that the poet responds to the visual encounter in a manner similar to that of Heidegger’s preserver, by restraining usual knowing and looking. In this way the poet facilitates the emergence from the work of visual art of truth about being and earth, as defined by Heidegger. In my forthcoming article ‘Ekphrasis and illumination of painting’, I argue that the poet, like the artist, restrains seeing-as and operates in a mode approximating mere seeing, as these terms are defined by Heidegger and Wittgenstein.

In the present article I propose to examine the role of looking down and looking up in non-representational art, and in particular Bolt’s ‘oil stain paintings’ exhibited in the Forty-five Downstairs gallery in Melbourne in conjunction with the launch of her book.

I propose to expose some blind spots in the thinking which underpins theories derived from Heidegger. I will examine the way ‘representation’ has been constructed in twentieth-century thought, and will argue that Heideggerian truth and Bolt’s ‘real material effects’ result from the privileging of perception over knowledge. I will examine, with particular reference to portraiture, Bolt’s assertion that the referent can be rehabilitated in Western thought and traced in ‘real material effects’. I will argue that ‘representation’ is an unstable process occurring within and outside signification, and that this very instability enables us to confidently predict that all art produces ‘real material effects’, or in other words, Heideggerian truth.
Language eng
Field of Research 199999 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2005, Double Dialogues
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30003268

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Communication and Creative Arts
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.