"Can an Exhibition be as Frightening as a Stephen King Novel?"
My doctoral thesis Can an Exhibition be as Frightening as a Good Stephen King Novel, used a methodology based on and fuelled by self-sustaining fantasies of what researching a PhD entailed. These included memories of horror movies in which woodcuts and symbols from rare occult books, found only in the old British Library, were studied for clues, backed up by Baskerville-esque portraits found in the 1995 edition of the Ocala Yellow Pages under Lawyers and Chiropractors, demanding a formal existence. I will discuss how such a methodology necessitated constructing as convincing a model as possible of autonomy in respect to the art field.
Such a model paradoxically seeks to have ‘social credit’ in order to maintain its autonomy, and, equally paradoxical, is sustained by import from other disciplines and from the broader social and political field. This model became the particular stage set for an eclectic group of protagonists to act out a more disturbing relationship to such an autonomy – that of acting out what at one time would be considered cursed texts or image magic. Such acts use the specialist reader's own knowledge and ambition to cancel out attempts to consolidate a reigning paradigm or aesthetic system from the text by quarantining it off from the field of partisan conflict. The protagonists in this scenario turn the act of interpretation back upon the interpreter, and return him/her into the closed off world of his/her own desire for status within discourse, to face their own worst nightmare.