UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The world is real : writing, counting, and reading in the art of Hanne Darboven Stieda, Kalie


This thesis seeks to approach the work of German artist Hanne Darboven (1941-2009) through the operations of writing, counting, and reading. In the language of New German Media Theory, these operations are known as elementary cultural techniques. I will trace the thematization of these techniques by analyzing Hanne Darboven’s art through what are known as her text formulations (schreibe, beschreibe nicht, schreibe rechnen/rechne schreiben, and gedankenstrich). These formulations are all inherently tautological, an aspect which links them to the recursivity of cultural techniques. These techniques are “articulations of the real,” ontic operations that exist a priori of the ontological concepts they generate, producing a difference between established pillars of meaning. Though many critics of Darboven see her art as the evocation of transcendental concepts like history and time, my research will show that Darboven is ultimately concerned with how these operations ground her process in the fabric of the world. Darboven’s art is not a rational realization of the values of the Enlightenment, nor is it a mathematical proof with infinite variations. It is rather a recursive system that is infinite only in its repetition of its own process, which is also a personal method of coping with daily life invented by the artist.

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