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Vol. 16 No. 1 (2022): Drawing and Loss

In The Blink Of An Eye: Drawing As An Act of Loss

22 October 2020


The following analysis examines my drawing practice in creating the work Drowning in My Living Room. A Self-Portrait (2020), focusing specifically on a particular emotive state I reached in the process of embodied mark-making. This condition, recognised as the ‘gap’, illuminates the underlying concept of the ‘act’ of drawing as a process of ‘loss’. According to the French philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), the artist experiences loss in the instant between the thought or image in the ‘mind’s eye’ and the split second the pencil or stylus touches the piece of paper or screen. ‘The genesis of the present’ (Newman 1994, 219) – that is the instant act of drawing as the origin of thinking – takes place within this Augenblick or blink-of-an-eye (Derrida 1993, 48); that momentary space or gap spawning interconnections between ‘the now and the non-now, of perception and non-perception’ (Derrida 2010, 73). Derrida deemed drawing to be an act of memory; that is, at the point of contact the image is already lost into the past (Derrida 1993, 68). The un-drawn space has no present but is simultaneously the future and the past; in other words, is a trait or trace. However, I build upon Derrida’s argument and propose that it is at this moment of blindness/loss there also exists the site of possibility, invention and originality, of wonder and astonishment. The Augenblick becomes an ecstatic temporal moment (Pasanen 2006, 221) . It is within this un-filled space that the potential of creating a cosmopoietic worlding is found. In the work, Drowning in My Living Room. A Self-Portrait, the door (half open or half closed?) becomes an analogy for Derrida’s Augenblick, which, like the door ajar, is a threshold between a serendipitous moment and the sense of the irreclaimable – of loss.