You Told Me – work stories and video essays / verkberättelser och videoessäer

by Bärtås, Magnus, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
You Told Me is a practice-based research project and consists of three video biographies (the Who is…? series), and two video essays (Kumiko, Johnnie Walker & the Cute (2007), Madame & Little Boy (2009), an introduction with a contextualization and methodology of the field, and three essays. The dissertation is an observation and analysis of certain functions and meanings of narration and narratives in contemporary art, as well as being an experiment with roles, methods, actions, and narrative functions in an artistic medium – the video essay. Using the methods of “pilgrimage” (Chris Marker) and essayistic practices, and by revisiting and retelling biographies, this work tries to find a place in between collective and personal memory. During the practical process and the reflective theoretical work the different elements or instances of the video essay are identified: the subject matter, the images (the representation), the artist/author, the narrative/text, and the narrator/voice. In documentary film the lack of natural correspondence between these entities is often dissolved or denied – this work instead exposes the instances as separate units. A question arises: What alternative roles can be established between these elements, for example by negotiation and transference between them? The methodological part of the text focuses on the conceptual invention made during the process, which I have called work story [verkberättelse]. A work story is a written or oral narrative about the forming of materials, immaterial units, situations, relations, and social practices that constitutes, or leads to, an artwork. By discussing analogies between storytelling, collecting, and biographical accounts together with examples from conceptual art, the dissertation shows how the work story is not only crucial for the understanding of the artwork but that the act of making and the very order or sequence in which the making proceeds often have symbolic, metaphorical, metonymical, political, and even epistemological meanings. In an extended form a work story disseminates meaning rather than capturing it. This is the essayistic work story that permits a writer/artist to wander off and touch upon a subject as if in passing, reproducing its neglected genealogy and destiny in the detailed materiality of the work story.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Göteborgs universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; Aesthetic subjects; Art; Video essay/filmic essay; conceptual art; biography; storytelling; work story /verkberättelse; narrator; voice-over; post-construction; narratology; reenactment; Chris Marker; Choi Eun-hee


Date of Publication:01/01/2010

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