Narratives of the Imagined Future: A Strategy of Resilience and Resistance

Conference: The European Conference on Arts & Humanities (ECAH2022)
Title: Narratives of the Imagined Future: A Strategy of Resilience and Resistance
Stream: Arts - Other Arts
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Debra J. Phillips, Australian Catholic University, Australia


Using the 2015 painting Be-yond Becoming which draws on motifs and symbols from Jan van Eyck’s 1445 painting, "The Arnolfini Portrait", and Albrecht Dürer’s 1514 engraving, Melencolia 1 I explain how art-making can disrupt unproductive self-narratives of depression and suicidality, allowing a space to construct a preferred self-narrative of the imagined future and to then perform it as a reality. The performance of the narrative demonstrates resilience. The presentation will focus on the theoretical, scholarly and spiritual underpinnings of how and why narratives of the imagined future are activities of resistance and resilience. In particular, the presentation explores Robert Henri’s concept of the art-spirit to examine the relationship between art-making, identity and the future while drawing on Kristeva's philosophizing about melancholia, inchoate expression and creativity. Additionally, Aelizabeth Grosz' ontology of becoming is used to frame how a narrative of the imagined future is a scaffold and practice for developing resilience. By developing another, alternate or preferred self-narrative creates a different ontological and epistemological perspective. The development of a future-oriented self-narrative, a Narrative of the Imagined Future, can only be realised if it functions in the present. The benefits of authoring a possible-future identity is a strategy to displace self-narratives of depression and suicidality and opens opportunities to practice resilient attitudes and activities.
My autoethnographic research into narratives of the imagined future is inter-disciplinary drawing its ideas from literature and narrative theory, visual art, sociology, psychology and theology.

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