Teiji Wallace-Lewis BFA (Distinction) MLitt (Distinction): Printmaking

Job Title:

PhD Research Student


School of Fine Art



The Great Affair is Over (but Is the War?)
by Teiji Wallace-Lewis

The Great Affair is Over (but Is the War?)


Teiji Wallace-Lewis

Collecting the Artist’ Voice: Navigating Institutional Narratives.
Supervisors: Nicky Bird, Susan Brind and Helen McCormack

How is art institutional discourse affecting the role(s) of authorship operating within its contemporary framework? This practice-led project will research and subsequently display an understanding of the dynamic validity, fluidity, and functions of authorship. It will focus on specific varied elements1 that constitute the art institutional “grand narrative” and “mythos” to problematize the effect that holds in regard to the artist’s original voice and art object. Through undertaking a genealogy of authorship, in particular the artist as creator, the initial endeavour of this research will be the critical unraveling of the complex institutional systems that entwine the author/artist and subsequent indexing. As a starting point the project interrogates Foucault’s (1998) argument that authorship is not independent and does not arbitrarily emerge from the producer, rather it is juridical, and entangled within complex systems of institutional discourse (p. 216).

The intent is to inquire whether the institutional narrative that the contemporary author/artist inhabits is a system of unnecessary constraints, and, assess whether the institutional experience is still laden with myth. These questions will be examined by contrasting Barthes’ (1977) declaration that the death of the author was intrinsically vital for the birth of the reader to render a “future void of myth” (p. 148) with Foucault’s (1998) contention that the author function needs to vanish from discourse; paving way for another mode of functionality no longer concerned with the author but a determined experience (p. 222). Does it make a difference who is speaking?2

My aim is to offer a critique of the systems of discourse within institutional art that examines the efficacy of these systems for the artist’s voice. The initial research design will undertake three inter-related elements:

Practice: create a body of work utilizing a familial archive case study to identify authorship’s effects on the visualization/embodiment of the original voice.

Theory: research and write a series of critical assessments of theoretical/historical writing on authorship and ambiguities within the institutional system.

Consolidation: produce a cohesive thesis that establishes and communicates a comprehensive understanding of the role of authorship within the institutional context.

1 That is to say, museums, galleries, collections, archives, art history, the art market etc.
2 See Beckett, S. (1967) Texts for Nothing 3.

Barthes, R. (1977) Image, music, text. Translated by Stephen Heath. London, UK: HarperCollins Distribution Services.
Foucault, M. (1998) What is an Author? in Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology. New York, NY: The New Press, pp. 206-222.