In everyday life, the terms visibility and invisibility are presented as opposites. In visual art, visibility traditionally rests with the artist’s marks—viewers are interested in seeing the image produced. This focus on visibility and vision in Western culture has been severely criticized by feminist theorists, such as Luce Irigaray. This paper will delve into the gap between visibility and invisibility, primarily through a discussion of my practice-based research in painting and drawing on various surfaces. This work explores the alternative(s) to a strict hierarchical antithesis between visibility and invisibility. The aim is to create moments of ‘undecidability’ between these terms. What kinds of relationships and meanings can be unravelled by exploring the in-between of visibility and invisibility? The methodology I have adopted for my practice-based research involves using marks that relate to the surface being marked—its appearance, use and history. This approach enables the conceptualization of complex relationships between mark and surface. Oftentimes, my marks are partially lost in the surface, either by being so subtle that they cannot be perceived from a distance, or by becoming confused with other marks. The faint traces create a ‘fugitive’ image that almost escapes vision. Through the discussion of my practice, as well as references to theories regarding visibility and invisibility, such as those of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, I will explore how the visibility/invisibility duality can be problematized through the making, installing and viewing of artworks. Using the concepts of ‘zones of indiscernibility,’ developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, and of partial subjects/objects, theorized by Bracha Ettinger, I will argue that the border between visibility and invisibility can be destabilized. Furthermore, I will propose that this destabilization challenges the status of artworks, viewers and artist.
|Keywords:||Visibility, Invisibility, Marking, Zones of Indiscernibility, Partial Subjects, Contemporary Art, Practice-Based Fine Art Research|
PhD Fine Art Candidate, Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London, London, UK