Incarnate: Presence and vestige in contemporary art practice


Needham, Michael. (2010) Incarnate: Presence and vestige in contemporary art practice [Thesis].
AuthorsNeedham, Michael
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Incarnate: presence and vestige in contemporary art practice is a body of sculptural work presented as a series of human-scale physical vessels intended for installation in the gallery and other settings. In conjunction with a supporting visual and textual document I utilize these vessels to posit and explore a primary parallel between the Christian concept of The Incarnation and an art process traditionally conceived as creative experience made manifest. My central argument is that the soteriological idea of ‘God made flesh’ corresponds to fundamental artistic aspirations whereby abstract concepts and propositions are rendered as tangible material form. In this way the sculptural work seeks to reflect divine aspirations while also prefiguring mortality, death and the potential for transfiguration. Core concepts of presence, absence, body-space, and trace together with their implicit Christian resonances hold the vessels together as a coherent series of research outcomes. Throughout, the ambiguous entity of the tomb or crypt reappears to trouble the viewer with their own precarious relation to corporeality. It is in this context that Incarnation remains a pivotal paradoxical theme of the thesis: how are we to consider embodiment as a ‘containment of form’ yet also as the miraculous marker of a seemingly always-impossible ‘transcendence’? As a PhD by visual research my written text is designed to exegetically extend and articulate important concerns circulating within the visual work produced as the thesis.

PublisherACU Research Bank
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Research GroupSchool of Arts
Final version
Publication dates01 Jan 2010
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