Mind Circles:
on conceptual deliberation
-Hanne Darboven and the trace of the artist's hand



PhD thesis completed in 2015 can be accessed and downloaded from the British Library here:

Andrea Jespersen continue researching female conceptual art that incorporate the ‘cerebral handmade’, with a specific interest and specialism in the possibility of 'enhanded knowledge', inspired by the notion of the extended mind.



The phrase ‘de-materialisation of the art object’ has frequently assumed the mistaken role of a universal definition for original conceptual art. My art practice has prompted me to reconsider the history of the term de- materialisation to research another type of conceptual art, one that embraces materiality and incorporates cerebral handmade methods, as evidenced in the practice of the German artist Hanne Darboven. This thesis will establish that materiality and the handmade – the subjective – was embraced by certain original conceptual artists. Furthermore, it argues that within art practices that use concepts, the cerebral handmade can function to prolong the artist’s conceptual deliberation and likewise instigate a nonlinear conscious inquisitiveness in the viewer.

My practice-based methodologies for this research involved analogue photography, drawing, an artist residency, exhibition making, publishing, artist talks and interdisciplinary collaborations with various practices of knowledge. The thesis reconsiders the definition of conceptual art through an analysis of the original conceptual art practices initiated in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s that utilised handmade methods. I review and reflect upon the status of the cerebral handmade in conceptual art through a close study of the work of Hanne Darboven, whose work since 1968 has been regularly included in conceptual art exhibitions. I discuss the many contradictions embedded in her practice, and establish how critics and theorists consistently simplified her work by predominately focusing on the conceptual aspects of her art practice. The thesis maps and analyses the historically disregarded fact that Darboven’s practice depended on materiality, as present in both her intensively temporal handmade processes and her methodologies of collecting. To explore the current legacy of this analysis I contextualise contemporary encounters related to fine art practice and conclude with a dialogue, artist-to-artist, with Lucy Skaer.