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Exploring value, meaning and worth through art practice: five art projects in rural Spain

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posted on 2023-08-30, 18:57 authored by Marina Velez Vago
Through art practice this Ph.D. investigates the idea of value in relation to the rural as an indicator of socially constructed paradigms, which informs and affects people’s behaviour towards the land, natural resources, other species and other knowledges. The thesis claims that art, in its openness and plasticity, plays an important role in the creation of spaces where values can emerge, be contemplated and transformed, because it works in ways that exceeds conventional knowledges and multiplies the possibility of creating other values. These spaces for transformation are explored through the lenses of photography and video as well as more ephemeral interventions such as conversations, walks and shared farm and shepherding work, which were approached as sympoietic activities of making-with others. The thesis consists of a body of artistic practice and practical research accompanied by written analysis, with each chapter built around a particular artistic project. The practice is conducted through two main strands: fieldwork in a rural area in southern Spain, used to explore the nexus between water, soil, animals and people, social and ecological justice and other forms of cognising and living in the world; and paper presentations and exhibitions through which the findings are put forward for the conversation to expand in academic and artistic realms. The thesis explores the idea that value and worth act as the emergent that highlights the traceability of more complex issues and examines the manner in which value is linked to the problematics of the Anthropocene. It positions the construction of value central to the idea that what is protected and nourished is defined by what is valued; and that art works and art practices can offer a space where these considerations can be contemplated anew. As humanity is faced with a global polycrisis of climate and ecological breakdown and a sixth mass extinction, this thesis proposes that there is a need for generating and protecting spaces where the continued existence of other species and their habitat can be guaranteed as well as a multiplicity of social forms as a means to prevent loss of diversity.



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