In Support: a theoretical and practical investigation into forms of display
This thesis develops an original notion of 'support' as a critical lens through which to investigate forms of display and the structures that sustain them; it is based on a multi-year art project consisting of ten exhibitions whose overall title is Support Structure. The notion of support is examined as the physical, economic, social, and political structures that are art’s conditions of possibility, and this investigation is undertaken theoretically and historically, as well as through the art practice.
The history of art continues to separate artworks from their display. This thesis argues that display is not only an essential element of interpretation and exhibition, but is intrinsic to artworks themselves, and is part of their coming into being. It shows that contrary to most understandings, display is not something done to already existing and fully defined objects, but is itself a transformative process, albeit one that often remains invisible. This thesis asks whether any object can be separated from how it is shown, repaired, treated, classified, owned and valued. Its answer is negative: engaging with these very processes reveals the operations that determine the nature of the object, and the conditions under which it is and can be recognised as such, the apparatuses of visibility that I have come to designate as ‘support structures’.
In Support, the thesis title, designates its subject and its methodology as a critical operative concept, which articulates the main proposition as practice: there can be no discourse on support, only discourse in support. The practice outlined
In this thesis consists of the invention of structures and infrastructures of support in several different contexts and thus the structure of the thesis is designed to function as a series of supporting texts.