Sarah Jones: She Who Must Walk Hunched With Fright Towards the Manor Gate in Darkness, Whistling to Her Ghosts all the While: Reticulation and the Self Which Tends Simultaneously Towards Life and Death.
Advisor/tutor: Alena Alexandrova
Independent reviewer: Chris Kraus
Arnhem, June 2014
This thesis explores the space in which the intersection of processes, becomings, and actions, produce within their perpetual production. The actioning of the conceptual third, by way of the interval between juxtaposed images, is discussed in relation to the coming together of the body and the self in the affective event. This coming together in perpetual movement, allows for the breakdown of perspectival hierarchies and the acknowledgement of a subjecthood, that desires its potential for dissolution in moments of transition. To discuss this complex space of variation, beyond a severed, jointed or linear articulation, each concept must be, in the first instance, established as both conduit and membrane in its inherent production of and in potential. Potential understood in this way allows for perpetual connections to be made in the production of the third, in what could be understood as a two-way turning. They are no longer concepts that can be articulated as tropisms as they do not move in a single direction. They are produced by their excess in the production of something more and as such are predicated on tending simultaneously towards life and death. I propose this turning-in-excess-of-itself as a process of reticulation. Artworks that can be witnessed via a process of reticulation, that they themselves are simultaneously born with and into, move beyond cohesion and connection. They remain unavowed, demanding a constant understanding in their perpetual becoming. They demand a witness, in darkness.
Jones' thesis is a moving, inspired, and sometimes brilliant attempt to clarify and understand the writer's own blunted, initially tepid response to witnessing Ragnar Kjartansson's 2013 A Lot of Sorrow. As Jones reports in an email to an undisclosed recipient, "I really only went there because you told me to ... My mind wandered when I wasn't listening ..." But something about the experience stuck. Haunted in a productive and provocative way by the experience, she proceeds to comb through modernist literature and contemporary theory for clues about certain kinds of artistic experience, presence and absence; memory, death, disappearance, returning at various times to the original art work. Jones 'performs' an extremely active manner of reading of an artwork. Her most valuable achievement, to me, is the way that it becomes exemplary for witnessing and understanding the expanded experience of being evoked by certain artworks. My only criticism of this thesis is that it becomes, often, too bogged down by its references and sub-references, sometimes complicating the primary philosophical texts in its summaries, rather than simplifying them. In future works, Jones might want to cut down on her sources, and deal with each of them in more depth, to a point where she is able to discuss them more clearly. But there is an enormous amount of knowledge, effort and perception conveyed through this thesis. Chris Kraus