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Forgotten memories: the notion of sacrum in artistic expression

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posted on 2021-05-24, 09:52 authored by Radek Pacanowskj
This paper is a critical examination of the artistic process undertaken to complete a mixed media art installation, exploring the concept of "sacrum" as the nucleus of the peasant culture of XIX century Poland. As demonstrated by the prevalence of sacred inclinations embedded in the moral consciousness of Polish peasant history, sacrum is the innate orientation towards realities that transcend time and matter - the active and passive reflection of that which lies outside the realm of human sensory experience. At its core, this project explores sacred elements embedded in Polish culture - these elements are not merely reflected upon, but are also reacted to and acted upon by the artist, thus revealing the forgotten sacredness of the most mundane objects and practices of human life. As such, this creative process functions as a research tool, which, by using interdisciplinary illuminations, now acts as a stimulus for the creation of new knowledge. Utilizing the notion of praxis, this project determines whether artistic expression facilitates the communication and sharing of undiluted knowledge. The ultimate aim of this endeavour is to understand the extent to which the artistic process is capable of sustaining the pure essence of expression, and of mediating the transcendent elements inherent in human culture. The approach taken is based on the richness of signals emanating from the artist's own personal history. It includes not only that which is utterly personal, but also that which is culturally determined, offering insight into the various social forces shaping the content of one's own self-identity. The process of tracing the lineage of a personal story is the chosen means used to deconstruct the complexity of cultural tectonics. Through a series of ritualistic actions, embedded with both personal and cultural significance, a transformation takes place, in that, the resulting disarray of energies, now freed from the skeletal structure of self-reality, reveal a sharper, more enlightened view of the spirit that permeates the artist's enveloping culture. The conclusions derived, highlight the inherent complexity of the artistic cycle and the various ways in which the intended message is distorted and/or misinterpreted. However, as suggested by the study's findings, this unavoidable, resulting distortion need not detract in any way from the inherent value of artistic expression and the artistic process. The creative journey taken was truly successful in the realization of a fuller, broader understanding of personal identity within a larger cultural, historical context. In addition, the commitment to praxis, as opposed to passive reflection, successfully revealed evidence of sacrum's inherent, interwoven existence within a greater personal and cultural ontology.



Master of Arts


Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type