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Title: To sing of Gilgamesh : the significance of mythic structure for creative practice
Authors: Barker, Ruth
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This practice-based research study investigates the structures underlying both a performance art practice, and the ancient epic of Gilgamesh, revealing the relationship between the form and content of this performance practice. This study has asked: 1) What is mythic structure? 2) What is the form of this performance practice? 3) What is the content of this performance practice? 4) How can mythic structure be related to a creative practice? 5) What is the relationship between the form and the content of this performance practice? Addressing these questions, this researcher produced and reflected upon a new body of performance artworks engaging with the ancient epic of Gilgamesh. Observations were then examined in the context of mythographic research, particularly the three-stage ‘hero’s journey’ advanced by Joseph Campbell. Both strands of research were scrutinised in the light of key concepts including the individual and collective unconscious, Salomean identification, and alogicality. This study discovered that the form and content of this performance practice are linked. Critical aspects of the three-stage structure underpinning some ancient myths (typically a separation, liminal period, and reintegration) were identified in the development and performance of the Gilgamesh Cycle works. The performance content reflects an alogical sphere that characterises Campbells’ liminal period. This alogicality privileges connectivity between persons, materials, ideas, and states. Such connectivity exemplifies what this researcher (extending Kaja Silverman’s analysis of poetry and installation art), has termed Salomean identification. Campbell’s use of ‘hero’ as a figure representing the structure described above, is therefore misguided. This researcher has recast this figure as a ‘medium’: a conduit rather than a conqueror.Finally this study has reflected on the success of the Gilgamesh Cycle as performance art practice, concluding that unanswered questions are necessary for the continued production of work. The increasing elucidation of this body of work has, for this researcher, rendered it finite
Description: Ph. D. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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Barker, R. 2017.pdfThesis (N.B. Audio CD to be consulted at the Philip Robinson Library only)9.67 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
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