Independent Research

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.

Exhibitions, Independent Research

Demeter Eurydice Medusa-Butterfly at the Illuminations Gallery

No Comments

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

No Comments

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




Independent Research

Re-codifying the Symbol of ‘Woman’ in Art

No Comments

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).

Independent Research, Studio

Leading to the Object

No Comments

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.

Independent Research, Studio

Studio Investigations

No Comments

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.

Independent Research

Articles of Interest, Concerning Ettinger & Kristeva

No Comments


The theories of these prominent  psychoanalysts fascinate me, but raise questions.  Both theories are centered around the womb.

I am interested Bracha Ettinger and her displacement of the Lacanian ‘Phallus’ from position as signifier.

I also wanted to clarify the position of Julia Kristeva in relation to her semiotic theory and her ideas surrounding abjection. I found these articles informative.



Independent Research, Placing Practice

Placing Practice

No Comments

I had the opportunity to shadow a 3rd year Architecture student at UCC Cork Centre for Architectural Education on Copley Street. I spent the day at a critical review and met students and tutors, some of whom are senior architects.

For Placing-Practice, which is part of an assignment for the MA,  I have chosen to concentrate on drawing and exploring it form a perspective which lies outside my field, hoping it will inform my practice and also give me a deeper insight. I am interested in the exploration of architectural drafting techniques. If possible I would be interested in incorporating aspects of this in my own work and perhaps working on a collaborative project.

Exhibitions, Independent Research

Charles Tyrrell at Taylor Galleries

No Comments

I visited Charlie Tyrrell’s exhibition of new work at the Taylor Galleries.
The work consisted of  small works (50x40cm) and and larger pieces (100x80cm) in oil on aluminum, closer inspection revealed scratch marks and incisions. The pieces had a certain meditative quality which I remember feeling when I saw Maria Simmonds Gooding’s  etched and inscribed works on aluminum at the RHA some years ago .
They evoke landscape which is somehow  at odds with the geometric grids which are Tyrrell’s  hallmark, and show how delicate the balance is between control and free expression.

The paintings made me think of the ‘freischwimmerosgut series’ of German artist Wolfgang Tillmans.

Independent Research

Dorothy Cross – Connemara at the RHA

No Comments

The work of Dorothy Cross has always resonated with me and I have followed her work where possible here in Ireland over the years.Her work involves the natural world and her relationship to it, she covers terrain with which I have an affinity. In her work she acts out aspects of this connection, dealing with the areas between consciousness, subconsciousness, memory and a sense of place.

Independent Research, Research Practices

Realisations concerning Matrixial Borderspace

Our talk with Dr. Tina Kinsella concerning ‘Affect’ and the works of Bracha Ettinger opened up areas of thought which have huge relevance for me.
I am still processing much of what was discussed and coming to new realisations, about my work, about my own life and how it has affected what I do and how I perceive and process information.

I will add to this as time progresses and I gain more insights. In the meantime, I am drawn to this quote by Braccha Ettinger,

The function of psychoanalytic theory for art may be to lend its conceptual tools to exposing the existence in art of a site of yet unformed knowledge about sexuality and subjectiyity, to clarify this site as a source for ideas that are awaiting signification in language, and to articulate them.” from Bracha Ettinger, ‘Trans-subjective Transferential Borderspace’

Independent Research, Research Practices

Affect: how do we communicate the ineffable?

No Comments

Affect is something which is not easy to express in language, because it is a unique type occurrence. It is primary, visceral and happens before our cognitive powers have the time to rationalise. Affect is a bodily experience and seems to involve a certain exchange of energies over which we have no control.The affect of an object or work of art on a viewer operates outside cognition and can cause a physical as well as mental reaction.

discussing 'affect' at the Glucksman Gallery
Discussing ‘affect’ at the Glucksman Gallery, Cork

I have had two of these intense experiences with paintings to date, the most profound of which happened in 2006 when I visited the ‘Holbein in England’ exhibition at the Tate Britain. There was a long que, and when I finally got inside the exhibition space it was very full and bustling. I was fascinated by Holbein and was very glad to be there, despite the large numbers of other people, I was completely in awe of the huge accomplishment and skill of this artist.
It was when I found myself standing in front of the famous painting, ‘Christina of Denmark’ that I experienced absolute ‘affect’. It was an experience of an ‘in between state’ and I transported in time, as though I was face to face with a breathing soul, I physically felt a strong energy which made a connection with me on a very deep level, and its memory has remained with me ever since. I can only describe it as a sort of ‘knowing’, perhaps close to the experience of enlightenment.

Hans Holbein the Younger, Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan, 1538, oil on oak, 179.1 x 82.6 cm (The National Gallery, London)
Christina of Denmark, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1538

In contrast, I was attracted to the Rothko exhibition at the Tate Modern in 2011.A large amount of media promotion surrounded the show and the ‘affect’ of Rothko’s work was almost advertised.  but  I wasn’t fully aware of the affect these paintings had on me until long after. I  went on the paint a huge Rothko inspired painting, which I called “don’t try to stop me”. 

Innern space, Mark Rothko
Inner space … the Mark Rothko room at London’s Tate Modern. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian