Visualising Transversal Relationships: Practice-based Encounters to Facilitate Socially Engaged Art

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Copyright: Do, Lap-Xuan
This research begins with debates at the intersection of race, colonialism, and language. As an artist and a woman of colour, I recognise my implication in the complexities of settler colonialism in Vietnam and Australia. The ‘conceptions of encounter’ outlined by Raewyn Connell (2013) are productive in my experimental research contexts. According to Connell, conceptions of encounter qualities include capacities for encounters, reciprocity, mutual respect and trust building. This practice-based research aims to performatively practise encounters through art using these conceptions of encounter as a guide. In positioning my creative research within the domain of socially engaged art, I examine the history of participatory art with a close look at Helguera’s framework of socially engaged art. Key examples from Vietnamese artists, Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai and Thinh Nguyen are analysed in relation to the ‘conceptions of encounter’ of Connell to review socially engaged art from the region. A/r/tography and various approaches inspired by Deleuze’s becomings provide a methodological lens to envision my acts of performative visualisations. I propose a series of criteria for practice-based encounters drawing on the work of Connell’s conceptions of encounter (2013), performative encounters by Anja Kanngieser (2012) and my own artistic experiments. Central to the criteria is a reflexive lens to enable iterative reflection on my practice. My practice-based works visualise transversal relationships, which I argue is the collective encounter with difference while sustaining individual understanding, respect, and autonomy. My work, therefore, explores intercultural communication, identity formation, and the dynamics of power and privilege when different groups interact. My body of work proposes practice-based encounters using various artistic devices, such as iterating voice, interpretations of colours, and situational renderings, to explore nuances of meanings and alternatives to knowledge-making in different artistic and learning contexts. In conclusion, an emergent theme is ‘voice’ used as a metaphor for enunciation, identity and positioning as well as the artistic tool to explore these concepts. I argue that ‘voice’ is subtle and ambiguous, and the diverse properties of voice are generative for contemporary audiences. Thus, the transversal relationship of voice has important implications for considering future questions of context, community, and participation in socially engaged practices.
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PhD Doctorate
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