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A Genealogy of Pictorial Berlin Work: A History of Errors


A Genealogy of Pictorial Berlin Work: A History of Errors

Desnoyers, Rosika (2012) A Genealogy of Pictorial Berlin Work: A History of Errors. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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This thesis is the outcome of an interdisciplinary process. It was approached and developed within an art practice that is premised on the use and understanding of pictorial embroidery. The investigation into the emergence of Berlin work that is presented here cannot be distinguished from my artwork. The thesis is therefore an exercise in practice- led research and research-based art practice that operates as a genealogy. The method of genealogy allows me to advance knowledge through the investigation of a specific cultural practice that is located in the interplay of various historical forces and that defines needlepoint as an object of discourse. Berlin work emerged in Europe in the early nineteenth century. My research demonstrates that it was a form of product innovation that was associated with enlightenment notions of scientific and cultural progress, and was promoted as an art form modeled on painting. As Berlin work was gradually displaced by modernist conceptions of art, it began its career as a form of “submerged knowledge,” considered a “mistaken” art form devoid of aesthetic interest. By focusing on the English context, I offer an account of needlepainting, enlightenment practices of copying, the development of an industrial aesthetic, and the making of the modern amateur as constituent elements of Berlin work. I do so as a means to understand Berlin work in its moment of emergence and to consider what aspects were eclipsed when embroidery began to be thought of in terms of formalism and medium specificity. The methods used in this project offer a novel interpretation of needlepoint. By considering how it is that disciplinary forces have shaped needlepoint as a submerged practice, I provide an unprecedented view of it as more than meets the eye in the contemporary conjuncture. This written thesis accompanies the creation of a micro- archive of research-related materials, artefacts and artworks. Together, the written thesis and the micro-archive are a means for me to develop an art practice that incorporates a reflexive critique of its own making and of the disciplinary regimes of contemporary art.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Humanities: Interdisciplinary Studies
Concordia University > Research Units > Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Desnoyers, Rosika
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:October 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):Huneault, Kristina and Tomas, David and Paterson, Elaine
Keywords:Berlin Work, Woolwork, Needlepainting, Needlepoint, Embroidery, Pictorial Embroidery, Contemporary Visual Art, Interdisciplinary Practice, Research-Creation, Research-based Art Practice, Practice-led Research, Copying, Industrial Aesthetic, Submerged-knowledge, Genealogy, Painting, Amateur, archive, Error
ID Code:975116
Deposited On:16 Apr 2013 14:15
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:39
Additional Information:This written thesis accompanies the creation of a micro-archive of research-related materials, artefacts and artworks.



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