Research Practices

Independent Research, Projects, Research Practices, Studio

Drawing Project in association with The Department of Classics, Trinity College Dublin

During 2015/16 Mieke Vanmechelen completed a series of drawings for a research project which was supported by the Thomas Dammann Junior Memorial Trust Award. The drawings formed the principal visual element to an important academic thesis. The project allowed an opportunity to link up with the Classics Department at Trinity College Dublin where Mieke originally studied Classical Civilisation and Philosophy. The resulting drawings and paintings enhanced the explanatory power of the thesis and contributed to this previously undocumented part of our cultural, economic and political heritage.

Research Practices

Subrealism: One-Day Conference on Ettingerian Studies at NUI Maynooth

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Subrealism was a one-day conference at Maynooth University focused on recent shifts in Ettigerian studies which focussed particularly on ethics, literature, art practice, psychoanalytical practice, political science, gender studies, queer theory, and philosophy. Speakers included: Graham Price, Dr. Moynagh Sullivan, Noirin MacNamara, Dr. Elena Marchevska, Paula McCloskey, Dr. Dimitri Douskos, Medb Ruane, and Dr. Tina Kinsella. There was Master Class with Bracha Ettinger, which took place on Thursday 9 October at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Aula Maxima, Maynooth University.



Exhibitions, Independent Research

Demeter Eurydice Medusa-Butterfly at the Illuminations Gallery

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Demeter Eurydice Medusa-Butterfly, an exhibition featuring new video works by Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger and an installation of her recent notebooks opened at the Illuminations Gallery, Iontas Building, Maynooth on Wednesday 8 October. The exhibition was curated by Tina Kinsella and Michael O’Rourke.

This event also marked the Irish launch of a new publication by Professor Griselda Pollock, entitled ART in the TIME-SPACE OF MEMORY AND MIGRATION: Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud and Bracha L. Ettinger in the Freud Museum.

Dr. Moynagh Sullivan, Dr. Tina Kinsella, Bracha Ettinger, and Michael O'Rourke
Dr. Moynagh Sullivan, Dr. Tina Kinsella, Bracha Ettinger, and Michael O’Rourke
Independent Research

Approaching the I from the Other side

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These few lines come from the work of….

Alejandra Pizarnik

Translated by Joseph Mulligan & Patricia Rossi

March 10, 2011

New Paltz, New York – Buenos Aires, Argentia

They are relevant as an example of the feelings we have as artists – as we feel connected to the transubjective border linking process of Bracha Ettinger, to the matrixial.



right now

at this innocent hour

I & who I was sit down

in the doorway of my gaze


to explain with words from this world

that a boat from me has shoved off with me on board



I miss distancing myself

from the time when I was born.

I miss not carrying out

the newcomer role more




Placing Practice, Research Practices

‘Arch Drawing’ as an Historical Document of Culture

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With regard to my project for ‘placing practice’ my main interest initially was in ‘arch drawing’, how it has changed and been influenced and examining those changes and influences. I began my investigation by sitting in on a critical review at CCAE and meeting students and tutors. On further enquiry I realised that the role of ‘arch drawing’  has a much deeper cultural significance,  perhaps a loss of the humanistic role of architecture in this age of technology. It seems to me that drawing was part of an architectural methodology but with the onset of technological advancement there is a slight feeling of instability. I would like to examine closely the moments surrounding the adoption and rejections of drawing as architecture’s primary tool of design.

I would like look at how architects use drawings and why it is the primary medium for architectural conception. In relation to this question I would like to ask how architects use computation and I would like to explore the idea that whether completed through mouse or pencil, the medium utilised is still drawing.

Strasbourg Plan A, c. 1260, Musée de l’Oeuvre Nortre-Dame, inv. 1, Strasbourg, France.

Independent Research

Re-codifying the Symbol of ‘Woman’ in Art

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I recently started ‘following’ the blog of  Dr. Tina Kinsella.
I found an article on an exhibition by Treacy Emin,  located by the Tate Galleries at Turner Contemporary in Margate in 2012, alongside  works by Turner and Rodin. The exhibition was part of a journey for Emin,  a search for home and also a journey back to painting.  In essence this is a journey related to my own.  She was looking for a way to say what she wanted through painting and drawing again, rather than installation and object.  In work she is also re codifying the symbol of woman as an object of erotic love,  giving the representation of woman in art a different power. Artists through their  work have the capacity to see and think in a way which defies Western logic, we have the capacity to  shift the way people perceive and contemplate.

The artist in the matrixial dimension is a wit(h)ness with-out event incompassionate witnessing. The viewer, and this partially includes theartist in his or her unconscious viewer position, is the wit(h)ness parexcellence. The viewer will embrace traces of the event whiletransforming them … Beyond representation, s/he is carried by anevent that s/he did not necessarily experience, and through thematrixial web an unexpected transformation and reaction to that eventarises. That is why, I believe, aesthetic production already carries
ethical aspects, even without the artist’s consideration or will. Since it
is not an intended message or particular theme, the potential
embracing of the memory of oblivion cannot “just” be aesthetic.
Perhaps the idea of wit(h)ness-Thing is leading us towards atransformation of the scope of aesthetics itself. 
Bracha L. Ettinger, 2006, ‘Wit(h)nessing Trauma and the Matrixial Gaze’ in Masumi, B., ed., The Matrixial Borderspace. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p. 149.

The article is placed in the context of Bracha Ettinger’s work and her discoveries in both intellectual and practical aspects of her art practice and psychoanalytic practice collide and inform one another.

“The most graceful moments in the covenant between art and theory occur when theoretical elements, only indirectly or partly intended for particular works of art, and visual elements which refuse theory, collide. In doing so, they transform the borderline between the two domains so that art is momentarily touched by theory while theory takes on a new meaning” (Ettinger, 1993a, p. 38).

Research Practices, Studio

Studio Practice – New Insights

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My perspective on my own creativity has become influenced by my research, as I am examining areas around studio practice which are inadvertently connected to it.  Certain aspects within my practice are becoming clearer, ideas which I previously overlooked.

By looking at areas which interest me I am beginning to formulate conceptual ideas which are manifesting themselves, not only in drawing and painting but other modes of expression such as mediations with environment, exploration of object and the written word.



Independent Research, Studio

Leading to the Object

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As part of my research concerning Mid European Medieval Literature I was drawn to the painting, Netherlandish Proverbs by Pieter Bruegel. Also called The Topsy Turvy World, I saw a direct correlation with the topsy turvy world, where predator becomes prey, as portrayed in the Ysengrimus. Breugel was alive when the texts I am exploring were current and so his paintings animate a time in history which was incomprehensibly filled with pain, suffering and immeasurable cruelty.

The Netherlandish Proverbs, depicts life in 16th Century Flanders, it illustrates 112 identifiable proverbs and idioms in the scene.
I was aware that traditionally in Flanders at harvest festivals brooms were ‘stuck out of windows’ as a marker or symbol which obviously had a significance connected to fertility and found this portrayed as one of the scene in the famous painting.

I researched how brooms were made and put one together myself. Once hanging in the studio it gained a totemic significance and connected with different aspects of my practice.

Research Practices, Studio

Studio Investigations

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From my reading of various Medieval texts I realised that the suffering and pain experienced during these dark times is not at all removed from what is happening today, and as I looked at the pain and tortures suffered by people then, an event happened within days of my research.  For this reason I included text from an article written by Nina Burleigh, an investigative journalist and author who has reported frequently from the Middle East.

Last week, a 22-year-old Dutch journalist was gang-raped in Tahrir Square and had to undergo surgery for severe injuries.
One of the hallmarks of revolutionary victory in Tahrir Square has always been rape and sexual harassment. Mobs of men routinely set upon women, isolating, stripping and groping
Raping foreign journalists -- guaranteed to attract global attention -- is merely a more efficient way of getting that message across
Egyptian women are the primary victims of sexual violence, and ultimately they are the intended recipients of the message: Stay home, your input in government and politics is not wanted.
Independent Research, Studio

Studio Investigations

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I completed a series of pen and ink drawings over a period of days, relating to and coming from the literature I was reading. I combined these with selected passages from ‘The Legend of Ulenspiegel’ – the sentiment of the text is very powerful and still relevant today. I feel this  correlation with certain aspects contemporary society  lends lends itself to further artistic exploration.