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On the necessity of wonder: How to explain an artwork to a committee

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This essay emerged from an exhibition in 2006 in which notions of the Wunderkammer became central in the curation of the show. It brought together work by Anna Boggon, Silke Dettmers and Helen Maurer, three artists employing the language of what one could call the contemporary surreal (The Wrong End of the Telescope, Three Colts Gallery, London).

The history and concept of the Wunderkammer is critical for the argument pursued in this article, which calls for the re-instatement of wonder and the idea of the marvellous. These are vital ingredients for visual arts practice but are unacknowledged in today's art academies.

It takes on board the current debate of visual arts practice as research and extends the argument of authors such as Sullivan (Art Practice as Research, 2005) and Barone, by demonstrating conventional academic definitions of knowledge and artistic practice to be irreconcilable.

Keywords: Wunderkammer; art practice; art writing; institutions; research; sculpture

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jvap.7.1.37_1

Affiliations: University College for the Creative Arts.

Publication date: July 8, 2008

More about this publication?
  • The domain of visual art hosts a multitude of artistic forms and practices. The Journal of Visual Art Practice supports research across the entire range of this varied field. The journal engages with the progressive nature of the subject, reflecting upon the changing terrain of art in recent years.
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