Embodied Absence and Evoking the Ancestors: A Collaborative Encounter
Keywords:presence, absence, grief, co-creation, walking, ritual, making, gifted objects
This paper argues that through participation, dialogue, co-action and the occurrence of immersive experiences, as suggested by Kester (2011), key elements of the research process, relationship, and friendship deepen and are enriched by engaging with absence and presence as part of a chosen activity and bodily experience. The following narrative explores how the production of visual artwork and co-created ritual experience in a chosen landscape weaves a gossamer safety net across the chasm of loss and raises questions of absence and presence, personal loss and the collaborative shared experience; the power of ritual, conversation, and object-making give attention to the presence of absence. My argument builds on the notion of presence, manifest absence and Otherness (Law, 2004, pp. 84-85) and extends the ideas that absence can be located in space and have materiality and agency (Meyer & Woodthorpe, 2008).
Appardurai, A. (1986) The Social Life of Things. 1988 ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bateson, G. (1972) Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Biggs,I.(2010) two essays on beauty http://www.iainbiggs.co.uk/text-two-essays-on-beauty/ [Accessed on 05/03/19]
Bourdieu, P. (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Butler, J. (2004) Precarious Life, the Powers of Mourning and Violence. London & New York: Verso.
Casey, E. (2000) Remembering: A Phenomenological Study. USA: Indiana University Press.
Davies, B. and Gannon, S. (2006) Doing Collective Biography. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Ellis, C. and Bochner, A. (2001) Ethnographically Speaking: Autoethnography, Literature and aesthetics (Ethnographic alternatives series) ed. USA: AltaMira Press.
Finlay, A. (2013) Memorial: Remembrancing Data Blog 23/11/13. Available from:
Frank, A. (2009) The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine, and how to Live. 1st ed. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.
Frommer, M. (2005) Living in the Liminal Spaces of Mortality. Psychoanalytic Dialogues: The International Journal of Relational Perspectives. 15 (4), pp.479-498. [Accessed on 01/01/19]
Gennep, A.v. ( 1960) The Rites of Passage . English translation ed. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Grimes, R. (2000) Deeply into the Bone. California: University of California Press.
Hallam, E. & Hockey, J. (2001) Death, Memory and Material Culture. UK: Berg.
Ingold, T. (2000) The perception of the environment. Oxford: Routledge.
Ingold, T. (2000/01) From the transmission of representations to the education of attention, XMCA Archive. Winter (Discussion papers), [Accessed on 05/03/19].James, W. (1890) The Principles of Psychology (Vol. 1). London: Macmillan.
Reference omitted for blind peer review
Law, J. (2004) After Method, Mess in Social Science Research. UK: Routledge.
Maddrell, A. (2013) Living with the Deceased: Absence, Presence and Absence-presence. Cultural Geographies. 20 pp.501 [Accessed on 01/01/19].
Meier, L.E.A. (2013) The Importance of Absence in the Present: Practices of Remembrance and the Contestation of Absences. Cultural Geographies. 20 (4), pp.423-430 [Accessed on 07/01/2019].
Meyer, M. & Woodthorpe, K. (2008) The Material Presence of Absence: A Dialogue between Museums and Cemeteries. Sociological Research Online 13(5) 1, University Of Surrey, pp [05/01/19].
Miller, D. (2008) The Comfort of Things. Cambridge: Polity.
Oldfield, M. & Murray, W.(1975) On Horseback. Oldfield, M. conductor/performer. London: Virgin Records.
Pearson, M. (2010) Site Specific Performance. UK: Palgrave Macmillian.
Pearson, M. and Shanks, M. (2001) Theatre/ Archaeology. UK: Routledge.
Radcliffe-Brown, A. (1939) Structure and Function in Primitive Society. London: Cohen and West.
Speedy, J. (2008) Narrative Enquiry and Psychotherapy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Springgay, S., Irwin, R. and Wilson Kind, S. (2005;) A/r/tography as Living Inquiry Through Art and Text. Qualitative Inquiry. 11; pp.897 [Accessed on 01/09/19]
Stein, A. (2004) Music, Mourning, and Consolation. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Assoc. 52 pp.783 [Accessed on 01/01/19]
Tanner, L. (1996) Lost Bodies: Inhabiting the Borders of Life and Death. USA: Cornell University Press.
Till, K. (2004) Emplacing the new Berlin, lecture delivered at the Spatial Turn in History Symposium, German Historical Institute, GHI Bulletin No.35 Fall 2004 [Accessed on 05/03/19].
Turkle, S. (2007) Evocative Objects. 2011th ed. USA: Massachusetts Institute of technology.
Turner, V. (1969) The Ritual Process Structure and Anti-Structure. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Turner, V. (1982) From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play, New York: PAJ Pubs.
Wolff, J. (1995) Resident Alien. Oxford: Blackwell.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2020 Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with Art/Research International agree to the following terms:
a. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication and the right to sublicense the Contribution, in the form in which it is published by the journal, to others under the terms and conditions of the of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND) that allows others to download the work and share the work with others with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal, but they cannot change the work in any way or use any part of the work commercially.
b. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive public distribution and display of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
c. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).
d. Authors wishing to include items (such as images or other media, or any creative works of others whether previously published or not) must contact the original copyright holder to obtain explicit permission to publish these items in Art/Research International. Writing permission should include: the title(s) of any copyrighted work, original place of publication if applicable, and an acknowledgement of having read Art/Research International's copyright notice. Authors are responsible for obtaining this permission and keeping it in their own records for later verification.