In my research project Doing the Crease: Subjectivity and Emancipation in a Liberation of Folds, I work with the idea of the fold as a method to investigate what subjectivity and emancipation mean in the context of word and image. By ‘folding’ language, I write summarised fictions aimed at being minimal and spacious at the same time. I explore these texts’ form and content through visual means such as sculpture, video and performance, often combined with audio recordings of my voice. I look for imagery to coincide with my words in a way that does not underline the story but rather its abstraction.
Folds in clothing mediate the relationship between the fabric of a garment and the shape of a body, as if the fabric is not only subordinate to the form of the body beneath, but also has a certain independence contributing to its shape. Not surprisingly, Gilles Deleuze links the fold to subjectivation: in thinking, one folds their thoughts around a matter to bring it inwards, and a gesture is a fold to the outside (Deleuze, 2006, pp. 27-28). Especially during the Baroque period, folds, like those portrayed in painting, increasingly took on a life of their own.
Seen as ‘bizarre’, the Baroque was not appreciated by contemporaries; the ‘excess’ of elements was considered ‘empty’ and ‘meaningless’. However, in the 19th century, Baroque was called ‘emancipated decoration’ (Hills, 2007, p. 55). Emancipation is the power to cast off old, imposed meanings and create a new, self-serving story. Deleuze introduces the Baroque as ‘an operative function’ that ‘endlessly produces folds’ (Deleuze, 2006, p. 3). It is about making the fold independent, liberated from its substrate. This comes back in my work: I explore how written language can be freed from its linear, narrative background to emancipate into a multidimensional form in which the carrier, such as paper or voice, conforms to the distorted language.
Interestingly, emancipation can also be found in comedy: a humorous situation breaks away from status quo and laughing is the result of shattered expectations. Perhaps this is why, for some, my methods lead to a humorous experience. Although this outcome is never the aim, it has led me to investigate how the slapstick method can be used as an editorial device to help emancipate text and meaning.
When slapstick characters make wrong decisions, it is not because they are stupid, but because they are too concerned with the task at hand. It is an exaggeration of the ‘mechanics of thought as such — the (perfectly rational, therefore idiotic) decisions’ (Dillon, 2007, p. 213) that leads to a mutation of normal behaviour. Similar to how Baroque artists paint robes with an appropriate shape, colour and texture, the slapstick mutation is subtle. The difference is in the folds: where the Baroque painters release additional, defiant creases into their compositions, a slapstick character expands the details of a gesture. With this in mind, I mostly want to find out how text can connect to subjectivity through the way in which it is put together and presented, how it ‘behaves’, and then: how it can be liberated. The result of my research is shaping up to be a series of works joining text and image into a crease both linguistic and material.
DELEUZE, G. (2006) The fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. (T. Conley. Trans.). London and New York: Continuum Publishing Group. (Original work published 1988).
DILLON, B. (2007) Another fine mess: nine theses on slapstick. Frieze. Vol. 110, pp. 212-17.
HILLS, H. (2007) The baroque: beads in a rosary or folds in time. Fabrications. The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand. Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 48-71.