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Art as a narrative of alterity.

Grassom, Brian James


Brian James Grassom


John Baldacchino

Jeremy Diggle


There is a close relationship between art and philosophy. From time to time, philosophy attempts to make art its theme. Invariably it has to acknowledge the very qualities of art that it seeks to explain - arts elusiveness and its indeterminateness. On the other hand, it is the nature of art to philosophise within itself, about itself, and about the world. In this sense it operates as tacit philosophy. The language of art and the language of philosophy differ in form; but recent turns in philosophy have led to the expression of its truth in terms that transcend language and question its own epistemic structure. At the same time, art has always acknowledged its approach to truth and knowledge as being other to that epistemology. This otherness to traditional ways of knowing is recognised in philosophical discourse as alterity. The thesis posits that in art alterity has always been, and remains, tacit and integral to arts being. Thus, by exploring the ways in which “ through alterity “ art and philosophy intersect and interweave, the thesis aims to reveal a new kind of knowledge that transcends the rational and the empirical but is nonetheless not only valid, but of the very highest integrity. That knowledge is transmitted through a particular critical and creative approach to philosophy and to art that opens the possibility of the event of Alterity. The thesis uses a discourse of philosophy and critical theory to reveal Alterity in philosophy, principally through the work of Derrida, Heidegger, Adorno, and Levinas; Alterity in art through the works of Fra Angelico, Pollock, Fantin-Latour, Malevich, Vermeer, and Saitowitz; and Alterity in my own art practice through a set of six sculptures.


GRASSOM, B.J. 2006. Art as a narrative of alterity. Part 1: Prolegomenon, appendices, and bibliography. Part 2: Books. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 18, 2010
Publicly Available Date Feb 18, 2010
Keywords Aesthetics; Alterity; Art; Critical theory; Derrida Khora Levinas; Otherness; Philosophy
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