Title: Epistemology, politics and subjectivity in artists’ collection projects.

Author: M.L. Butler

Subject: Fine Art

Year of Award: 2003

Institution: University of London, Goldsmiths College


This thesis looks at the work of contemporary artist who have produced projects in which the processes, structures and artwork are integrated and politically motivated.  Their collective projects are analyzed in terms of epistemology, politics and subjectivity.  Their work is seen to provide epistemological locations and practices of embodied thinking and knowledge where new meanings are made and offered.  The artists’ work is situated as part of political liberation movements for social change, and is analyzed in relation to the production of personal and collective subjectivities, especially through imaginative figurations of possible selves.  The thesis argues that artists’ collective projects can be understood in terms of epistemology, politics and subjectivity, and makes contributions to the disciplines of epistemology, politics, art, Cultural Studies and discourses on subjectivity.

This interdisciplinary research sits at the intersection of art, politics and philosophy.  A methodology and epistemology based in the feminist anti-racist philosophy of ‘situated knowledges’ is developed and used to provide a detailed analysis of an artists’ project called NHI - No Humans Involved which took place in San Diego, California, in 1992;  in addition, the work of two other contemporary artists’ collectives is discussed - the Vancouver-based Kiss and Tell lesbian artists’ collective, and the Noncommercial public artists’ collective.

Special attention is paid to the relations between images and texts in the artists’ work, in academic practices and in the thesis, and a new image-text methodological practice, called ‘visual epistemology’, is developed and used throughout.  This three-part method involves the use of calligrams which wed image and text;  it engages with theorists’ work with others’ images; and it enjoys a practice of thinking through and with images and texts.

C3RI © SHU May 2006