A Visual Dialogue: What are the Inter Relational Dynamics of Grief?

By Brian Sanstrom.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In contemporary society, grief is a universal and multi-faceted human response to significant personal change or loss such as the death of a loved one, separation, or divorce. This paper will argue that inter-relational dynamics of grief can be communicated visually through patterns of perception and experience. It will consider both private/personal and public methodologies used by international artists to contextualise grief in their work with reference to their chosen materials, and their use of surface and textural renderings. Sophie Calle, a French conceptual artist depicting human vulnerability, examines identity and intimacy by creating an art book from a personal diary entitled Exquisite Pain 2003, which blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction. Similarly, another French artist, Christian Boltanski portrays loss and grief in his work; Personnes 2010, a singular ephemeral work that questions fate and ineluctable death. Conversely, other artists use a form of public installation art, where the importance of space, film sets, and the role of the materiality are all key elements. Memorials of architectural structures and universal landmarks have played a significant role in loss and grief. Both Callum Morton and Gordon Matter-Clark investigate the links between architectural elements and suspenseful or dramatic, spaces, which are often reminiscent of the mystery of the absent person. Through an awareness of how people move, perform and react to particular spaces, they explore the relationship between private and public space, interior and exterior, and reality and illusion.

Keywords: Grief and Loss, Contemporary Art Practice, Private/Personal and Public Methodology, Relationship between Reality and Illusion, Calle, Boltanski, Salcedo, Morton and Matta-Clark

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp.287-298. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.203MB).

Brian Sanstrom

QCA Postgraduate Studies - Doctoral Student, Faculty, Arts, Education and Law, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Fortitude Valley, Queensland, Australia

I am currently undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy at the Queensland College of Art with the assistance of a Higher Degree Research scholarship. My research will develop a series of investigations based on a more conceptual consideration of the notion of ‘loss’. My studio work will negotiate how the ‘space’ between deconstruction and reconstruction can create a narrative–a sense of loss, an emptiness, a spiritual void. I plan to further explore the dichotomy that can be constructed between the concept of presence and absence, reality and illusion, loss and regeneration, through the manipulation of structure and space. My work will investigate the relationships between people, objects and structural environments.


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