The sublime in the work of Cornelia Parker

Book chapter


White, L. and Pajaczkowska, C. 2009. The sublime in the work of Cornelia Parker. in: White, L. and Pajaczkowska, C. (ed.) The Sublime Now. Newcastle Upon Tyne Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 181-196
Chapter titleThe sublime in the work of Cornelia Parker
AuthorsWhite, L. and Pajaczkowska, C.
Abstract

Research Questions
• How can the notion of the sublime be used to understand contemporary art?
• How might such work be placed within longer histories of the sublime and its theoretical and cultural manifestations?
• What are the (complex) relations between conceptions of the sublime and discourses on gender, the body, desire, materiality, and the everyday?
Research Context
This essay is part of the book The Sublime Now. It is co-authored by the book’s editors, Luke White and Claire Pajaczkowska. Cornelia Parker was a speaker at the conference which had been the starting point of the book. The essay sets out to recognise the importance of her work as an artistic articulation of the contemporary sublime, and of a number of the issues taken up in the conference and book. The essay more generally finds its place within discourses on the sublime in contemporary art and culture.
Research Methods
• The essay primarily proceeds through close readings of the five key works from across Parker’s career.
• It contextualises and comments on these works through material from the histories of reflection on the sublime, as well as a range of theoretical viewpoints, in particular psychoanalysis.
Findings
The essay proposes that Parker's work stages the collapse of a series of binary oppositions which the sublime has long been a mode of articulating (sacred/profane, horizontal/vertical, material/immaterial, humour/horror, sublime/ridiculous, elevated/abject, nature/culture, public/domestic). The essay argues that such a collpse is itself a form of the sublime. Inasmuch as these are oppositions around which gendered identities are constructed, Parker's sublime plays a subversive or transgressive function. Parker’s sublime is also an exploration of experiences of nature in the context of current ecological concerns.

Research GroupDiasporas
Visual Culture and Curating cluster
LanguageEnglish
Page range181-196
Book titleThe Sublime Now.
EditorsWhite, L. and Pajaczkowska, C.
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Place of publicationNewcastle Upon Tyne
ISBN
Hardcover9781443813020
Publication dates
PrintOct 2009
Publication process dates
Deposited31 Mar 2010
Output statusPublished
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