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Matthew Cowan

The Lessons of Folklore. Utilising the origins of the carnivalesque folk ritual in contemporary art practice. 

Many European folk customs contain elements of a subversive nature, relying on humour,  costumes, disguise and ceremony at their heart. Numerous rituals, customs and folk dances  from across Europe rely on the kind of sanctioned and disguised chaos that characterise a  subversive state of being. My doctoral practice is situated within this milieu of ritual and  tradition, expanding and reframing the contemporary settings of folkloric mythologies  customs and rites. My aim as an artist and researcher is to critically engage with such  folkloric practices and their modern incarnations as the basis for creating new solo  exhibition installations and a written doctoral thesis. I am investigating the practical use of  traditional folklore and customs as emblems in performing identity and place. In practice  these works are image, video and sculptural installations both within the context of  the historical museum and the contemporary art gallery. As part of my written artistic  research, I am also drawing perspectives from other experts and practitioners in order to  gauge a broader framework of contemporary practice. 

This investigation is taking place in our present, an age when digital technologies and  globalised connectedness move us away from a different kind of connectedness, that of the  realm of the natural magic of the landscape, and of past hyper-local agricultural rites.  Throughout history, folklore has connected us with the seasons and with hopes and luck charms of future prosperity. Traditional customs have represented a kind of necessary  annual calendar of combined natural speculation, for both the realms of the environment  and the human. 

Keywords: folklore, artistic research, costume, installation, sculpture, video, photography, humour,  artistic practices in museum contexts 

Recent Solo Exhibitions contributing to this Doctoral Research: 2020 Wildness Makes This World, Seinäjoki Kunsthalle, Seinäjoki, Finland  2019 The Scream of the Strawbear, Kunsthalle Giessen, Giessen, Germany 2018 para field notes, Photographic Gallery Hyppolyte, Helsinki, Finland 2016 Wandle auf Rosen und Vergissmeinnicht / Walk on Roses and Forgetmenots,  Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum, Braunschweig, Germany

website: www.matthewcowan.net

KuvA research activities

This blog highlights the activities of the research unit and doctoral programme at the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki | Tämä blogi esittelee Kuvataideakatemian tutkimusyksikön ja tohtorikoulutusohjelman tapahtumia ja toimintaa | I den här bloggen presenteras verksamheten och evenemangen vid Bildkonstsakademins forskningsenhet och doktorandprogram

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