(un)childhood: performing the voices and times of childhood through relational video-making

Santos, M. and Da Fonseca Moreira Santos Maria 2015. (un)childhood: performing the voices and times of childhood through relational video-making. PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Media, Arts and Design

Title(un)childhood: performing the voices and times of childhood through relational video-making
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsSantos, M. and Da Fonseca Moreira Santos Maria

This practice-based PhD is comprised of two interrelated elements: (i) ‘(un)childhood’, a 53’ video-essay shown on two screens; and (ii) a 58286 word written thesis. The project, which is contextualised within the tradition of artists working with their own children on time-based art projects, explores a new approach to timebased artistic work about childhood. While Stan Brakhage (1933-2003), Ernie Gher (1943-), Erik Bullot (1963-) and Mary Kelly (1941-) all documented, photographed and filmed their children over a period of years to produce art projects (experimental films and a time-based installation), these projects were implicitly underpinned by a construction of childhood in which children, shown as they grow, represent the abstract primitive subject. The current project challenges the convention of representing children entirely from the adult’s point of view, as aesthetic objects without a voice, as well as through the artist’s chronological approach to time. Instead, this project focuses on the relational joining of the child’s and adult’s points of view. The artist worked on a video project with her own son over a four-and-a-half year period (between the ages of 5 and 10) through which she developed her ‘relational video-making’ methodology. The video-essay (un)childhood performs the relational voices of childhood as resulting from the verbal interactions of both children and adults. The non-chronological nature of(un)childhood offers an alternative to the linear-temporal approach to the representation of childhood. Through montage and a number of literal allusions to time in its dialogue, (un)childhood performs the relational times of childhood by combining children’s lives in the present with the temporal dimensions that have traditionally constructed childhood: past, future and timeless.


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