Performing 'Sympathy'

Doris Rohr

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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    Performing ‘sympathy ‘This paper intends to trace a lineage between the pedagogical and social dimension of drawing in the work of John Ruskin, Josef Beuys and contemporary performative practices with relevance to drawing. Ruskin and Beuys advocated drawing as a means to understand and respect the natural environment, believing in drawing as a tool, of value to all irrespective of educational or social background. Ruskin promoted access to learning drawing as it teaches to look closely and schools perception. In the Elements of Drawing (Letter 1) Ruskin introduces drawing as a tool for visual literacy, as it “records of such things as cannot be described in words”, yet cautions the learner about aspirations to become an artist. Drawing underpins Beuys’ concept of social sculpture challenging consumerism and fostering ecological awareness. For Beuys the possibility for all to realise their potential in becoming an artist seemingly contradicts Ruskin’s elevated conceptions of art, yet the positions are reconcilable through an understanding of creativity as ‘sympathy’ that helps to deconstruct assumptions about the role of art. The legacies of both these influential thinkers/drawers can be found in Richard Ashrowan’s moving image installation The Alchemist (2010) featuring performances by Sandra Johnston and Alastair MacLennan. This presentation aims to tease out further the relationship between drawing and social/ecological action in contemporary practices.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
    PublisherYork St John University
    Number of pages0
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 May 2017
    EventDrawing Matters - York St John University
    Duration: 26 May 2017 → …


    ConferenceDrawing Matters
    Period26/05/17 → …


    • Drawing
    • Performativity
    • Pedagogy
    • Environment
    • Ethics
    • Ruskin
    • Beuys


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