research question(s): Is an anonymous notebook of paintings, known only as MS Ferguson 115, an early feminist experiment in depicting an embodied self, and can it therefore be linked to a feminist art history?
Can an experimental entwining of historical research with a fictional narrative and a related series of paintings and open up a more affective engagement with this book than art historical research alone?
Non-attributed historical objects are difficult to see as they are not yet encoded within agreed narratives. Thinking with ideas of historical spectrality, The Ghost Artist asks if the traces of botanical, alchemical, and artistic image formulas in an anonymous eighteenth century notebook of watercolours actually cloak a fugitive quest for an artistic language the artist did not know: a means with which to record her experience as an active subject. This possible history is tested in detailed image analysis; in relation to the practices of Hilma af Klint and Louise Bourgeois, and in relation to contemporary psycho-analytic approaches to subjects and objects.
The research is an experiment in artistic history writing that includes paintings created alongside the historical research, and interweaves these with the fictional narrative of a woman struggling to embrace her own personal experience of time.
Project partners: The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague.