Proposal Presentation

Throughout the first year of the MA I’ve been exploring ideas of biography and autobiography, and the intersect between the two, also considering the fictional aspects when employing biographical material within contemporary artwork

Within my current practice I have developed a more research based approach to my work, reading biographies from artists working in different mediums

One in particular that held my interest was that of the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky

I read biographical works on Nijinsky, but of particular interest to me was Nijinsky’s autobiography - ‘The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky’ (2006)

This publication documents a short period of the dancers life in which he was entering psychosis

Within his diary there were certain things he wrote that stood out for me

People must not think me, they must feel me and understand me through feeling

Scholars will ponder over me, and they will rack their brains needlessly, because thinking will produce no results for them

I am talking simply, but without any affection

My political views are to be kind to everyone

I am an unthinking philosopher, I am a philosopher with feeling

My madness is my love toward mankind

I am not God, I am not man. I am a beast and predator

I am standing in front of a precipice into which I may fall

My soul is sick… I am incurable

Jollity is the death of the mind

I am afraid of death, and therefore I love life

I think little and therefore understand everything I feel

I am feeling in the flesh and not intellect in the flesh

I am man and not God

Beginning with the extracted text I began working on the project titled: Insects and Parrots’ - a work in progress

I then set about recording the text with a voice actor

These recordings then triggered the visuals I went on to create directing performances with a dancer and an actor

This work was initially intended to culminate in an installation of film, sound and voice to be shown at the first year exhibition, giving me the opportunity to experiment with my ideas

Due to the current restrictions this never happened, so I editing a twenty minute, one screen film. (this can be viewed on my blog)

I am still working with the limited amount of film and recording I had made earlier in the year.

Throughout the lockdown I found myself with more time for reading and researching

I was looking for more text that appealed to me, with the view to possibly incorporating it in my work

Unable to use a library, I began reading biographies and poetry that I’d had for years

I read poetry by Lord Byron, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso but nothing really appealed to me

In my research I came across a piece of work by Bill Viola ‘Room For St. John of the Cross’ 1983

This introduced me to

‘The Poems of St. John of the Cross’

Most of the poems were written during a period of nine months in 1577 - 1578 when St. John of the Cross was imprisoned and tortured in a monastery in Toledo

The first poem Dark Night I found I could relate to and fuelled ideas for more visuals

I also revisited a book I’d had for years,

Swans Reflecting Elephants - My Early Years - Edward James edited by George Melly

I read more books on Edward James, leading a path to a selection of James’ poems, ‘The Heart and the Word’

The poems by Edward James and St. John of the Cross appealed to me in the way the Nijinsky text had previously

I am considering whether to try incorporate some text from these works in my practice

This has led to questions about the direction of my work for the MA second year

Although I ended the last year by making a twenty minute one screen film, with the very limited filming I achieved before the lockdown, this was not originally my intention

‘Insects and Parrots’ - a work in progress was originally to be a multi screen installation piece with sound and voice

I am now considering whether to continue with the work in year one, bring it to it original conclusion by doing more filming and voice recording, and experimenting with a multi screen installation

Or, move away from this and begin another project incorporating the research I have just discussed

I am also considering whether I might combine the two

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Derek Dickinson