Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University. Operating under the title Not Yet There, Cocker's research focuses on the process of artistic exploration and the performing of ‘thinking-in-action’ emerging therein; on models of (art) practice and subjectivity that resist the pressure of a single, stable position by remaining wilfully unresolved. Her mode of working unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches to producing texts parallel to and as art practice. Cocker's recent writing has been published in Failure, 2010; Stillness in a Mobile World, 2010; Drawing a Hypothesis: Figures of Thought, 2011; Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art, 2012; Reading/Feeling (Affect), 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and as a solo collection entitled The Yes of the No, 2016.

Writing: Salvage - Selective Resurrection

I am currently working on my book chapter entitled, Salvaging A Romantic Trope: The Conceptual Resurrection of the Shipwreck within Recent Art Practice, which will be published in the forthcoming book, The Semiotics of Shipwreck (ed.) Carl Thompson, (Routledge, 2013).

This chapter is proving a context for revisiting ideas in relation to failure, and for researching and thinking about the idea of the fragment in more depth. It has provided opportunity for engaging with a couple of recent publications addressing the idea of the fragment and the fragmentary including Camelia Elias', The Fragment: Towards a History and Poetics of a Performative Genre, (Peter Lang, 2004) and Hans-Jost Frey, Interruptions, trans. Georgia Albert, (State University of New York Press, 1996) a few fragment from which can be read below:

“The fragment that has been understood is not a fragment anymore. By being ordered into a context it is done away with. Here the process of understanding is a struggle against its object. This shows that an experience of the fragmentary is already at work in the will to understand – in the urge to do away with the fragmentary […] The understanding of the fragment that makes the fragment harmless can be understood by way of our fear of the unmasterable” [i]

“Fragmentariness cannot be overcome. If an understanding of the fragment is possible, it cannot be an understanding that, ordering, masters, but only one that seems through the arbitrariness of the contexts it puts together and that opens them over and over to the unmasterable, which only reaffirms itself in them. Such an understanding renounces closure and wholeness because it is only in this way that what is to be understood can remain reachable in its unreachability; such as understanding is in its essence – or in the trouble of its inessence – fragmentary. It grasps and leave meaning at the very edge of meaning”[ii]

[i]           Hans-Jost Frey, ‘Fragment and Whole’ in Interruptions, trans. Georgia Albert, (State University of New York Press, 1996), p.40
[ii]          Hans-Jost Frey, ‘Fragment and Whole’ in Interruptions, trans. Georgia Albert, (State University of New York Press, 1996), p.42-3