Doctoral Project Artistic Research

Figures of reticence as a (bio)political strategy, a forced necessity, and the impossibility of artistic expression

Ksenia Yurkova

Figures of reticence as a (bio)political strategy, a forced necessity, and the impossibility of artistic expression

On the intersection of affect theory, psychoanalysis, disability studies, and neuroscience, I research the figures of reticence in relation to the study of visual art, namely photography, video, and installation. Building on the contributions of Groupe μ in structural semantic rhetoric and taking inspiration from Gilles Deleuze in relation to cinematography, my aim is to develop a new approach to visual rhetoric in regard to reticence. This will be based on a selection of my own practice and artistic works that intersect with various discourses, including authoritarian and totalitarian ideologies, politics, biopolitics, and necropolitics.

My research will examine reticence on three levels: as a strategy, as a necessity, and as an impossibility. Reticence as a strategy refers to artistic choices made in response to the threat of political persecution or authoritarian pressure and the indirect ways in which an artistic statement can deflect direct threats.

Reticence as a necessity reflects a culture of self-censorship, driven by a perceived or even imaginary threat of a dominant discourse or prestige. The third level, reticence as an impossibility, relates to the inability to express traumatic experiences and memories and is explored as a form of unconscious artistic language.

The research will consist of two parts. A series of movies, videos, and installations where I explore the revealed and developed methods in practice: a video essay, Non-utterance, will be a visual support for the book publication; an experimental video essay, Ancestry Break-down, will explore the nature of the concept of self-identification and identification of the Other by methods of “reverse” visual anthropology; a supportive movie project Post-iron will question the concept of “expert knowledge”.

The theoretical part will contextualise my practice and examine the state of the art. The research is motivated by contemporary art challenges, including the homogenisation of the aesthetic component due to the influence of the art market, data rate, biennialisation, and the gelatinisation of art.