The Art of Failure : Construction, Actualisation, Constraint
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Failure is a subject of discussion in the arts regarding its role as a clear articulator of the creative process and the actualiser of live performance. Inspired by this discourse, this thesis examines failure in the arts to understand the processes of artmaking and art performance, by focussing on the role of failure in these processes. This is achieved through the analysis of four artist interviews elucidating three different modes of failure – acknowledgement, acknowledgement of possibility and culturally signified social resonance of failure – using the relevant art practices as the point of intersection. This is made possible by examining artistic research, including a number of models that describe failure in the making of art to demonstrate the reality of the first mode. A metaphor, the circus, is used to describe the acknowledged possibility of failure involving the audience in the performing arts, as in the second mode. To explain the third mode, the experience of failure on a personal level is traced through literature and artmaking to reveal its role in the practice of art. Failure is defined as a constructive, actualising and existential affordance for the understanding and analysis of art practice as predicated upon processes of trial and error. Through this argument, the functions of the three modes are explained and confirmed as, respectively, constructive, actualising and constraining. Finally, the liberation of failure from its cultural connotation as abject is argued to afford a more open use of the term and concept in the discursive approach to artmaking and performance as well as education, science and politics.