Macushla Robinson




Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia


Macushla Robinson is an emerging theorist, practicing artist (trained in printmaking) and Curatorial Assistant at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She recently completed her Honours year in Theories of Art Practice at the University of Sydney, for which she received the University Medal. Her research is in the field of contemporary art, focusing upon the philosophical implications of material practices, such as the handwritten word and transcription in art. Her methods are trans-disciplinary: her theoretical enquiries begin with material encounters and processes, privileging process and materiality.


Thinking through the body: transcription and its visual image
Bea Maddock’s Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre


This paper explores the act of transcription in Bea Maddock's artist's book 'Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre' (1982). Transcription is the act of writing out a text that the artist has not authored, in the process lending it material qualities that exceed its linguistic content and index the body of the artist. I will investigate the relationship between form and content in the copied text, which is charged with duality: the form is generated by the artist and the content is generated by an absent author.

'Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre' demonstrates the way in which material processes that reproduce a text engender closeness. The object consists of a set of fifty pages (twenty-seven sheets) that bear a handwritten transcription of Sartre's text on handmade paper. Each page is infused with beeswax, which has a dark, warm tone and a sweet smell. The pages are then stacked, and enclosed in a textured fabric-covered box.

Paradoxically, the copy that Maddock has crafted is a unique and singular object that cannot be reproduced, since it has visual and tactile qualities that are handmade, and thereby recall the hand that made it. Its pages must be leafed through to be viewed; engaging the viewer in an intimate and tactile encounter. Aiming to fill the gap between the body of the artist and the text that she transcribes, Maddock embodies the text by retracing the movements of the writer. 'Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre' gives the text a new corporeal presence that reflects the body of the artist.


Tuesday 27 September


1:30pm - 3.00pm





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