B.A. (Toronto), M.A. (Kingston, England)
Dissertation: Tending to Place from Here to There: Studies in the Place-work of Aesthetic Chorography
Jonathan Bordo (Supervisor), Suzanne Bailey, Blake Fitzpatrick
External Examiner: Paul Duro (Rochester)
Internal Examiner: Michele Lacombe
Chair: Michael Eamon
In 1995, Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation held its inaugural symposium titled “Art in the Landscape”. During the roundtable discussion, walking artist Hamish Fulton asserted that there are fundamental differences between his art and American Land Art. Drawing on Fulton’s assertion, this dissertation argues for the redefinition of British environmental art, conventionally called Land Art after the American tradition. Through the exploration of the work of several contemporary and living British artists, the British School of Aesthetic Chorography is articulated. The practice of aesthetic chorography involves an embodied experience of place, such as walking or gardening, which results in a creative response. This creative response is the place-work of aesthetic chorography and can take a plethora of forms including the attachment of language to place, the creation of an ephemeral marker, an image or a representation or the creation of a printed object which recalls the place in some way. Derived from the unfolding of this place-work, the role of language in art is a theme which is carried through the dissertation. The role of language in childhood, memory and constituting knowledge claims is also explored particularly as this relates to place and to loss and the conservational potential of language with respect to place is theorized in a place theory of language and a recollective theory of place. The conservational element of this work is further developed through the articulation of aesthetic chorography as a parochial tending practice which devotes attention to place as an experienced phenomenon. The persistence of parochial places and vernacular tending practices, however, require conservation. The heritage work of the Common Ground Trust in the UK which seeks to promote the “local distinctiveness” of places is explored and the keeping place is raised as a way of thinking about the engaged and living preservation of vernacular places, particularly in the face of environmental crisis.
Keywords: Aesthetics, Aesthetic Chorography, Art, Common Ground Trust, Concrete Poetry, Critical Topography, Environmental Aesthetics, Environmental Ethics, Epistemology, Heritage, Keeping Place, Land Art, Landscape, Language, Lieu de Mémoire, Local, Memory, Monument, Parochial, Place, Place-work, Tending, Vernacular, Walking, Jonathan Bordo, Lionel L. Ferguson, Alec Finlay, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Hamish Fulton, Andy Goldsworthy, Donald Judd, Richard Long, Robert Macfarlane, Brian Nichols, Ferdinand de Saussure, Richard Skelton, Robert Smithson, James Turrell, W.J.T. Mitchell