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Macdonald, A., 2016.

Contingency, Containment and Curation

Output Type:Conference paper
Presented at:Expanded Practice - Curation as Creative Process
Venue:MMU: Cheshire
Dates:29/4/2016 - 30/4/2016

The concept of curating could be said to sit easily with my art, for I often work with found materials, gathering them in one place so that others can see them differently. Here though, I explore the way I curate the experiences of those who see my work, rather than the materials from which I construct them. I do this by focusing on the way the process of curation resonates with the psychoanalytic process of containment (Winnicot, 1965) as manifested in what I see as the 'forms of holding' (Metcalfe and Ferguson, 2001:252) within my practice.

I begin by considering what an un-curated experience might be with specific reference to the concept of contingency, as articulated by film theorist Doane. For Doane the contingent is a place of 'absolute freedom' (Doane 2002: 107) where all events are of equal significance, or insignificance. She goes on to note, however, that the potentially overwhelming nature of this 'non-hierarchised information' (Doane 2002:140) brings with it the uneasy subtext that we live at the mercy of events. From here I explore the way that my art, works to contain contingency focusing on its material and metaphorical line forms such as; the delineation between artist and subject, the linear movement of film, and the lines of the body. I speculate on the way these forms could be said to curate the anxiety of the viewer drawing on the psychoanalytic notion of containment, as articulated initially by Winnicot, which is modelled on early parenting processes whereby the mother creates a holding environment, a safe space that contains the as yet un-integrated infant ego (Winnicot, 1962).