Thesis Abstract

‘After Richard Serra’

A few people have expressed an interest in the contents of my Doctoral thesis, which will be submitted on Monday February 1st. I won’t be posting it here, but here’s the abstract, should you want to read it. I do plan, should the whole assessment process go smoothly to produce a ‘’ version of the thesis to go with other volumes I have published, but I suspect it will be the summer before that happens.

Thanks to all of you who have shown an interest in this project or supported it in any way.

Reiterative drawing as translation: making, resistance, and the negotiated encounter

Reiterative art, art that remakes art, is a significant strand of twentieth and twenty-first century practice, encompassing the work of artists as diverse as Marcel Duchamp, Elaine Sturtevant, Kate Davis, and Yann Sérandour. Prevailing discourses on such works often focus on replication and appropriation as the source of their critique while overlooking what might be understood by exploring their making. Founded in an examination of my own work – predominantly drawings of extant works by others – this doctoral project frames reiterative art in terms of translation and its attendant theory, transforming the act of making into a close reading of its source, and following up on the implications of that reframing.

Translations plot trajectories away from their sources and towards specific targets, exposing the space, conceptual and actual,­ between precursor and product as one of making through remaking and where ‘an extended apprenticeship’ occurs (Briggs, 2013). An expanded description of translation is proposed encompassing visual and literary forms, incorporating the importance of resistance in complex making processes through the generation of sites of negotiated encounter (Sennett, 2008). Negotiation is considered here as a variant of the ongoing and contingent ‘figuring out’ of interlocutors, described by Jacques Rancière as a hallmark of emancipation, and predicated on a striving for an understanding that ‘must be understood in its true sense: not the decisive power to unveil things, but the power of translation that makes one speaker confront another’ (The Ignorant Schoolmaster, 1991).

In translation, as in the drawings produced for this research, negotiation is verifiable and tripartite: occurring between translator, source, and target works. Antoine Berman’s analytic, the ‘twelve deforming tendencies of translation’ (found in his essay Translation and Trials of the Foreign, 1985), when deployed to analyse visual rather than linguistic reiteration, facilitates this verifiability. Berman’s tendencies are revealed as a regulation of the maker’s voice, allowing the artist to understand how works of art are deformed even as they are made, and furthermore providing a new vocabulary for understanding works of art, particularly those founded on reiteration.

Berman, Antoine, ‘Translation and the Trials of the Foreign’, The Translation Studies Reader, ed. and trans. by Lawrence Venuti, London: Routledge, 2000, pp. 284–97

Briggs, KateOn Table-making and Translation, (Accessed 15 October 2015)

Rancière, JacquesThe Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation, trans. by Kirstin Ross, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991 [Le mâitre ignorant: cinq leçons sur l’émancipation intellectuelle, Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard, 1987]

Sennett, Richard, The Craftsman, London: Allen Lane, 2008


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