A Visual Exploration of the Emotional Experiences of Migrants in Woodcut 7


By(Student’s Name)



Theresearch paper examines the emotional experiences of the migrants inWoodcut. Lifestyle migrants have to make social and emotionalinvestments in their destinations. The destinations that they seekare often localized hence, making the ‘fit’ even morechallenging. It reveals that the belonging is neither a matter offait accompli nor that being rooted in one location. Such arousesemotions, which are tied to their experiences at the time. Usingpractice-based research, the paper used two woodcuts to explorevisually the emotional experiences of migrants who were Germanexpressionist artists. The article identified the post-World War 1uncertainties as being the virtual migration that the artists engagedin as they faced the uncertain future after the war. The emotionalexperiences have been supported using theoretical frameworks. Inaddition to that, the article examines the gaps in the visualresearch such as the aspect of time, especially in the field of art.The paper brings together research on visual methodologies and thaton lifestyle migration.

Stagingthe Research

Incontemporary art practice, it is occasionally difficult not to fallinto the way of labels and categories when one explores the notion ofmeaning in any particular work of art. This lies true particularly inthe contemporary society whereby the viewer of art is exposed to amodern contemporary consumerism society on a grand scale.Contemporary art has not been excluded from the comodification ofculture or its public social spaces. With this in mind, it is the aimof the paper to present a positive response to art`s inherent tropismand cultural excesses through a visual dialogue that will embrace thenotions of meaning and identity while presenting art as an evolvingconcept.

Ina visual art practice, finding the meaning underneath lies more inthe transposition of the concept or idea through a visual analysiswhile examining the medium`s possibilities regarding its materiality(Ofsted Publications 2009). The process of making art, however, doesnot end at the juncture of possibilities. The return to aesthetics incontemporary art identifies the complex relationships between arthistory`s temporal trajectory and the cultural materialism within theaesthetic context.

Theexperiences of migration provide an excellent context of thisexegesis research that focuses on the emotional experiences ofmigrants in woodcut. The woodcut art pieces during the Germanexpressionism were influential works that captioned some of theexperiences at the time. The German expressionism was anextraordinary vivid presence in the art that occurred in the earlytwentieth century (Weller, 1994). The violent colors depicted whichwere often distorted stylized form reflect the rebelliousness of theparticipants and the revolutionary mood that came with the newcentury.

Thejournal by Elites 2015, also discusses the topic of migration and theemotional experiences of the Britons who immigrated to France. Themigration could be termed as being as in the sub context of lifestylemigration which a novel phenomenon with its history that has beenmade possible to several global developments in the last eightdecades(Elites, 2015). The migration relates to the economicprivileges enjoyed in the developed worlds, construction of placesoffering alternative lifestyles and the general ease of movement

Whenthe migrants migrate and settle in new communities with entirely newcultures, the migrants experience five crucial topicsthat areembodied in the social sciences field that include the following:residential and racial segregation, discrimination based on bodilydifferences, citizenship and a lack of a sense of belonging, labormarket inequalities and racialization processes (Hollified et al.,2007). In that light, the paper focuses on the feelings observed inthe performative dimensions on emotions. These can be termed as beingthe emotions of practice. The emotions resulting here were theproduct of not the initial encounters, but those that came furtherdown the line after the relationships have been established, rapportand trust built up. The exegesis focuses on these emotions as drawnup in various art pieces hence completing the studio inquiry on thevisual exploration of the emotional experiences of migrants inwoodcut.

Thepaper uses the visual arts to explore the themes of migration andsocial divisions. I have three aims of undertaking the project whichare as follows:

1.To determine an extent to which visual methodologies can providean insight to social divisions and emotional experiences which arenot readily available through other means of enquiry.

2.To establish how the lifestyle migrant subjects are reconstructedby engaging in migration through the careful analysis of theemotional experiences of the migrants in woodcut.

3.To explore the emotional experiences of the migrants in woodcut

4.To identify gaps in current theory and research and offer researchpotential solutions in this field.

5.To determine the connection between the art pieces and emotionalexperiences of the subjects portrayed.

Acritical study at the visual studies reveals that some of the trendsobserved in the social sciences can in fact be found in the visualstudies. For instance, some work that is policy-oriented can beparalleled to the work in the visual arts (Hollified et al., 2007).The symmetries observed between the two subjects suggests someinteresting questions about the relationships demonstrated betweenthese two disciplines.

Isthe work contained in the social sciences that employ a vast array ofvisual methodologies, merely illustrative? In other words, does thiswork provide the visual images that have been replicated in the workand pictures are undertaken in the social sciences? Is the content ofthe visual arts and social sciences interdisciplinary? Does thecontent provide a union of insights drawn from social research, text,number-based which employs the visual methodologies? Do the visualarts and social sciences provide any new insight that cannot begenerated in any other means of enquiry?

Isthe relationship between the two disciples irreconcilable? Do thesetwo fields of study each represent two cultures? The former beingconcerned with objective scientific laws that do not and can neverspeak to each other and the latter being concerned with aesthetics(Hollified et al., 2007). In the paper, I seek to explore some ofthese possibilities that form part of the research questions. Theliterature review section of the exegesis further expounds on thetopic of visual studies.

Anythingthat man engages in is usually driven by a sense of purpose thatdrives the action to be undertaken so that the significance of theactions can be reaped. Similarly, research papers have a unique setof payoffs that can be derived once the research has been done. Thepresent research paper will strive to fulfill the following purposes.First, the paper identifies what researchers have to gain from theirlearning on the applicable visual methods. Second, the paper exploresthe significance andpitfallsof the various methods used to studymigration and the resulting social division by examining thecontribution of peer-reviewed materials. Finally, the paper revertsthe main focus around and identifies the blind spots in the exegesis,which helps to show the gaps in current research hence,demonstrating the significance of this exegesis.

TheLiterature and Practice Review

Expressionismin Germany as Evidenced by Woodcuts

Inthe books by Allesandro (2004) and Weller (1994), Expressionism firstemerged in the year 1905, when a group of architecture students thatdesired to become painters formed a group named the ‘Die Brucke’(the bridge) in the German city of Dresden. The group comprised ofErnst Ludwig, Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Routtluff, Fitz Bleyl and ErichHeckel. At the time during the nineteenth century, and theculminating two decades before the First World War, theGerman-speaking areas in Europe had experienced a series ofsignificant radical changes, and escalating crises(Allesandro(2004).Politically, the municipality areas in central Europe had beendramatically transformed, initially by the Napoleonic wars then bythe failed revolutions of 1848.

Afterthe forging of a Prussia-dominated German Empire centered in Berlin,relative peace and boosted economic times prevailed in the region.There occurred unprecedented technical transformation characterizedby rapidity, degree, and quantity. The economic revolution hadreplaced the agrarian dominance in the area with the capitalistindustrialist powers, new communication and transport infrastructure,uncontrolled urbanization and a shifting population class(Allesandro, 2004). Ironically, the book hints that there resulted inuncertainty that characterized the cultural and social atmosphere atthat time.

Theeducation opportunities offered to the younger class of Germanartists did not improve at the time and by the 1890s a majority hadbecome aligned to the non-academic and international stylistictendencies (Weller 1994). The same arts students would formexpressionism groups due to the changing times in the country.Expressionism is a term that is used to denote the use ofexaggeration and distortion for an emotional effect. Expressionism isapplied in a stylistic sense, regarding the particular use of intensecolors, disjointed spaces and brushstrokes in woodcuts in the earlytwentieth century.

Expressionismis an artistic style in which the artists attempt to depict theirsubjective emotions based on the responses and events that surroundthem rather than the objective reality. The artist achieves this aimby exaggerating, distorting, fantasizing and primitivism (Weller,1994). Expressionism is highly personal and a spontaneous expressionof art movements. The goals of expressionism are to actively imposethe artist`s sensibility of the world around them, unlikeimpressionism whose goals are to reproduce the impression suggestedin the world. The expressionist artists will substitute the visualreality of their image of the object which they misplace as being theaccurate representation of their real meaning.

InWeller`s book, an excellent example of expressionistic woodcut wasthe SitzanderAkt (Seated Nude) by Max Pechstein. The artist hadfought in the World War 1 in the Germany army and did the woodcutduring that time. The woodcut reveals a nude seated on a stool whichseems to be set in the tropics. The sharp distinction between thedark and light areas conveys the effects of sunlight and warmth inthe midst of cool shadows. The nude with her eyes closed pushes herface towards the sun so as to absorb the rays in a pose of consciousabandon (Allesandro, 2004). The woodcut is in contrast to the wartimein Berlin at the time, with the extreme shortages of coal and food,suppressed violence and despair.

MaxPochstein`sSitzenderAkt (Seated nude) 1918.

TheWorld War 1 had succeeded in disrupting the stylistic and conceptualcohesion among the artists who had originated in Dresden. The warsplintered the artists into isolated individual experiences andexistence, which eroded their unity that they had maintained withinGermany`s consistently shifting artistic organizations. Theseparation resulting from the war had caused the artists greatanguish as they had all been touched by the war. The questions ofallegiance and identity that had shaped a majority of their youthfulartistic experiences had been restated, and with the highest possiblestakes (Weller, 1994). The emotional experiences encountered by theartists are crucial in this paper as they form the basis of what thepaper strives to achieve. The artists depicted their emotionalexperiences on the woodcuts which the paper picks on and visuallyexplores with supporting theory. For instance, the woodcut by MaxPochsteinSitzenderAkt (Seated nude) can be read as being a vision ofthe future of the new Germany.

Thebook by Figura and Jelavich (2011) also discusses the Germanexpressionism but now focuses on the graphic impulse of the artwork.In the book, the author states that for the expressionists, religionand art were closely intertwined. Both were involved with thesurrender to an inner, spiritual energy that preoccupied the humansoul. Although the artists had lived in the age of philosophicalnihilism and intellectual skepticism, the expressionist artists weredrawn by the Christian motifs and themes that shaped German cultureand way of life for centuries.

Severalof the woodcuts that the artists carved had the images of anexpressionist figure of Jesus (Figura and Jelavich 2011). The authorstates that during and after the war, disillusionment and despairprevailed over joy and hope. In expressionists work, the Christianmotifs reflected a pessimistic viewpoint that emanated from thepsychological strain of their experiences during the war(Figura&ampJelavich 2011). For instance, Max Beckmann`s Descendantfrom the cross (1917) treats the death of Christ as an indictment ofcollective responsibility amongst all men and an allegation ofspiritual devastation

Inthis studio enquiry, we will consider the woodcut named the portraitof a man (1919) by the artist Erich Heckel. The artist who was afounding member of the Die Brucke used woodcuts due to the starkaesthetics, raw emotionalism as well as the traditional Germanheritage that could be demonstrated in the woodcuts. While a majorityof Erich`s works depict city life and an array of nudes, the portraitof a man takes up a more introspective subject in the somberself-portrait.

ErichHeckelPotraitof man(1919)Woodcut- Museum of Modern Art

Thewoodcut demonstrates a man`s face, weary eyes and distorted jaw whichseem to gaze into the distance. An interpretation of the portraithighlights the individual`s physical, psychological and spiritualfatigue. Heckel indicates that the general spirit of the time coupledwith the national weariness of his age led to the woodcut. Theliterature presented by Figura and Jelavich 2011, proves criticalsince it also demonstrates the key expressionist traits that canassist this research paper visually explore the emotional experiencesof the migrant individuals at the time of World War 1. The portraitof man evokes a jolting emotion of the encounter during the war andexhibits an anxiety towards the tangible world. This representationof the artist forms the basis of the expressionist interpretations.

Thejournal article by Elites (2015) examines the emotional experiencesthat have marked the living experience of the Britons that haveresided in rural France. The case is a paradigmatic lifestylemigration that develops an understanding of how the lifestylemigrants can be reconstructed after engaging in migration. With themigration being compared to a self-awareness project, the articlefocuses its lens on emotions and the ambivalence that many of theBritons face despite their privileges.

Thematerials appeal to the thesis of this exegesis since it demonstratesthe value of moving further from the migration narrative into thelived experiences. In addition to this, the Journal stresses that forthe middle-class Britons immigrating to France, belonging is aproject in progress hence promoting the notion of lifestyle migrantsas being translocal subjects. Ongoing attachments further complicatethe belonging of the individual to the places and people in the newareas(Elites, 2015). In this article the researcher adopts anethnographic approach to the research that sets out to understand theBritish migration to rural areas of France, their settlement andeveryday experiences.

Theindividuals under observation were predominantly originating in themiddle class of the British social structure, and a majority hadmoved to France with the promise of a job and better lifestyle. Thearticle assesses the emotions of the individuals once therelationships had been cemented between themselves, the localcommunity and also the author of the journal. Migration hasconsiderably been aided by factors such as globalization, policiesthat favor the movement of individuals between the European Union.

Belongingand under globalization, can be claimed to be the choice to live inan area that possesses both symbolic and functional importance. Thechoice to live in a place, however, comes with a hitch. The migrantsmust establish and maintain social connections with the Frenchcommunity so as to localize themselves (Elites, 2015). With themigrants, in this case, being middle-class subjects the fit in thenew destination is put to the test, with the lived experiencechallenging the assumptions of locality and community.

Theauthor reinstates that the claim of belonging in a new environmententails social and emotional investments that have to be convertedinto symbolic capital. At this point, the residential choice is nowlegitimate. The long travel reveals the difficulties that themigrants face. The migrants struggle to establish new relations inthe ground in the new destination while maintaining the new relationsback home in Britain.

Thefocus on lived experiences and emotions in the article here unsettlesa new concept of elective belonging. It makes it clear that belongingis neither rooted in one location nor fait accompli. The reportpresents the aspect of migration as being a more complicated story ofclassed identity formation and belonging. The literature by Elites(2015) proves critical in this exegesis since it shows the emotionaldifficulties that migrants have in fitting in their new environments.It also highlights the importance of social and emotional investmentsthat form the core of any migration be it geographical, worktransfers or even separation from your loved ones.

Thejournal articles by Imsay(1986), Duggleby and Lawrence 1998, as wellas Noy and Sharav(2013) discuss how Art expresses emotions. Romantictheorists have always taught many to notice the value of theexpressiveness of works of art. Ismay(1986) indicates that works ofart can be said as being expressive of thoughts, attitudes, characteror anything that can be expressed for that matter. Works of art canbe expressive of emotions such as happiness, sadness or melancholysince works of art conscious entity drawn from the artists thatdevelop them. Since the artist is a conscious being with feelings andemotions, then the work of art can be said to express emotions. It isimpossible to understand how to call a painting sad if one cannotrecognize the sadness in the person developing them.

Theauthor indicates that there are two ways to of how works of art canbe expressive of emotions. First, the artwork is ‘E’. The artworkis expressive of ‘E-ness’. For instance, sadness and ‘E’ isthe adjective described for the description of sad. The second areasfeature on how artworks ‘symbolize’, ‘imitate,` ‘represent’and ‘refer to ‘emotions (Ismay, 1986). Artwork is a product ofbehavior when the artist expresses their ‘E-ness.` In the creationof the art, the artist realized their intentions to express theiremotions. Besides the artist, the ball also falls on the audience ofthe artwork. Any artwork has a tendency to arouse the E-ness in theviewing audience. For instance, a painting revealing agony and painwould show emotions of sadness. The artwork evokes the feelings inthe imagination of the audience.

Thesecond viewpoint of how artwork expresses emotions states that for anitem of behavior to showcase expression then it first must be causedby E-ness. Second, it must occupy a role in current theory thatplaces it in a position to be created by E-ness given the social andpsychological contexts in play. Any behavior can be caused by anemotion given the psychological and social contexts in play, but theones that demonstrate expressions will depend on the theory invoked.Typical and bizarre behavioral, emotional effects will count if thestory belongs to the normal type (Duggleby&amp Lawrence, 1998). Forinstance, crying is the kind which is a normal effect of sadness,despair, and joy.

Inaddition to this, art can be said to have an aesthetic valueattached. The aesthetics are crucial in examining how artwork`sreveal emotions. For instance, when we state that face has a sadexpression there need to be no further implication that the owner isworried. Art`s aesthetics can be compared to the sad face that onedoes not to enquire if the sad emotions prevail. In this sense, it ispossible to assess the face and its expression as being one suited toreveal sadness independent of whether one thinks it shows the owner`ssadness (Noy and Sharav 2013). For instance, the aesthetics in Karl`sSchimidtRouttluff`s (The three Magi) 1917 woodcut indicates that theartist envisioned an age of transformation in peace in the future.

KarlSchmidt-Routtluff“s DieHoligendreikonige(Thethree Magi) 1917

Materials,Methods, and Conceptual Frameworks

Visualmaterials have been a growing area of academic interest in appliedarts, philosophy (aesthetics, color, vision) and art history. Untilrecently, studies on social sciences have been directed towardsvisual methodologies (Hollified et al., 2007). Visual researchmethods refer to gathering research data using visual means, forinstance, the analysis of woodcuts in the case of this paper. Itinvolves the review and interpretation of visual content whether ornot the content was initially generated with research motives inmind. The visual methodologies term is an umbrella term that refersto visual analysis and visual research methods. More specifically, itrefers to the concepts and theories, technologies and techniques thatare used in examining ‘the visual’.

VisualStudies are composed of different dimensions that Gillian (2007)discusses. The author has identified three distinct ‘areas’ wherethe meanings of woodcuts can be made: the location of the woodcutitself, the sites where the design of woodcut is done, and the siteswhere various audiences see the woodcuts. In addition to this, thewoodcuts can be further distinguished between three differentmodalities: social, technological and compositional. The term socialis a short form that creates a range of social, economic andpolitical relations and practices that surround a certain woodcutincluding its how it is used and seen. For instance, the seated stoolwoodcut satisfies this modality since it is produced at a time of warand is intended to simulate the better times that would prevail inGermany.

Thetechnology motive refers to any apparatus designed to be viewed whileenhancing the natural vision. This is an essential modality adoptedby the art and design since they possess aesthetics that are intendedto please the audience in one way or another. In the compositionalaspect, we refer to the particular material qualities of the woodcut.The color, content, and spatial organization are the consideredaspects (Gillian 2007). The many theoretical disagreements that existin the visual studies space are over which of the sites andmodalities are most crucial and why.

Visualmethodologies proved significant than any other method of enquiry dueto the following reasons. First, the use of woodcuts in this exegesishas enabled me to gather rich, highly contextualized viable data thatcan be utilized in the studio enquiry process. The woodcuts have anaesthetic sense to them that have assisted me to pick out theemotional experiences depicted by the expressionist artists on themigrations. In addition to this, the use of visual methods has beenproven to be a great tool especially in the social sciences field asthe researcher can engage with the research participants.

Visualmaterial can also be used as aids to thinking. Numerous scholars havepraised that visual materials have a huge role in challenging thewidely held assumptions, and in the developing of new approaches andtheories in the social sciences field. With all the praise befallingthe visual research practice, I am not insinuating that visualresearch ought to replace the text and number based research. Thepaper identifies a perfect integrated approach in which visualsources and information are used in the social sciences studies.

TheExegesis: Discussion of the Studio Research Process

Theexegesis’ main purpose is to discuss and replicate the processes ofstudio enquiry within the context of a visual exploration of theemotional experiences of the migrants in woodcut. The expressionistartists of Germany did the woodcuts that the exegesis analyses. Asthe literature review indicated, expressionism first emerged in theyear 1905, when a group of architecture students that desired tobecome painters formed a group named the ‘Die Brucke’ (thebridge) in the German city of Dresden.

Theartists rejected all the art schools and teachers but always listenedto each other in the sharing of information. The artists were alsohighlighted as having idealist conceptions of themselves beingmediators between the material and spiritual worlds, betweenideational existence and life. They proclaimed the need toparticipate in life itself by breaking the separation that formaleducation brought between reality and knowledge. The artists believedthat they should act in life so as to create new forms of art thatwas not as per the norms taught in conventional art schools. This canhelp explain why the woodcut pieces of the artists were sounconventional such as erotic images and demonstration ofexpressionism. Such forms art that can demonstrate idealism were thelike of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Bathers throwing reeds) 1909.

ErnstLudwig Kirchner`s (Bathers throwing reeds) 1909

Theart piece by Max PechsteinSitzenderAkt (seated nude) is perhaps oneof the most thrilling art pieces in the lot sculptured by anexpressionist artist. At the time of developing the woodcut, MaxPechstein and the other Brucke artists had fought in the World War 1and had been touched by the war. The war succeeded in disrupting theconceptual and stylistic cohesion of the artist originating inDresden hence splintering the artists to individualistic isolatedexistences and eroding their unity. The questions of identity andallegiance that had shaped their youthful artistic experiences werenow restated with the greatest stakes ever.

MaxPechstein had fought in the infantry war for almost three years andin all that time had not been able to make art (Allesandro, 2004). Ina bid to discipline histraumatized mind he took up to wood sculpturewhich is unlike some of his other art pieces. The SitzenderAktrevealed a neo-primitive vocabulary into the work of the artist incontrast to the mannered drawings he had drawn. In addition to this,the woodcut also showed a yearning by the artist for a pureexistence.

Thecomplexities, violence, and uncertainty of the post-World War 1society represent the migration that the artist engaged in at thetime. The woodcut indicates the nude turns the face upward to the sunas if in a move to absorb sunlight. Allesandro (2014) suggests thatthe woodcut could signify a vision of the future, as the emergence ofa new day personified by an expectant nude. Through a visualexploration of the woodcut, the exegesis lays emphasis that the toughtimes of the post-World War 1 represent the artist’s migration fromthat time to the future which the artist envisioned in the woodcut asbeing positive, peaceful and full of life as depicted by theexpectant nude.

Theartist`s emotional experiences drawn by the SitzenderAkt cannot beclearly identified in the woodcut. While the nude in the woodcutseems peaceful, the Pechstein is reeling from a war that hadtraumatized him and left him separated from his artists group. Theexplanation for this phenomenon is drawn from the article by Noy andSharav (2013). The article indicates that not all behavioral effectsresulting from an emotion will count as expression of the emotion.While behaviors are caused by emotions given suitable social andpsychological contexts, the ones that count as being expressiondepend on the theory being invoked. In order for the artist`semotional experiences to be drawn the woodcut, a story must be toldso as one can identify the emotional experiences faced by the artist.

Ismay(1986) indicates that the experiences of migration and settlement arenot necessarily characterized by a smooth flow that poses as beingsimilar to the ease one can cross a border. The process proves to berougher and a more turbulent encounter as one strives to seek abelonging in the new established way. This can be related tomigration depicted in the woodcut where the artist is on a path ofrealization of his surrounding in the new post World-War 1 Germany.While it does not necessarily mean a physical movement from point Ato B, the uncertainties presented by the Post World War 1 present anexcellent emotional experience similar to what is experienced inphysical migration.

Discussionof the Outcomes and Significance

Theliterature on integration discusses processes of racialization,residential segregation, discrimination based on certain differences,labor market segmentation and the fit. All these topics ingrained inthe migration studies actually are phenomenon that migrantsexperience upon reaching their destinations. In the exegesis, weidentified the emotional experiences that the migrants in woodcutexperienced. The paper assumed a literal migration that did notinvolve any movement but comprised of a woodcut that was criticallyexamined as per the exegesis requirements.

Thesecond woodcut named a Portrait of a man by expressionist artistErich Heckel depicts a man who has distorted jaws and weary eyes thathighlight of the psychological, spiritual and physical fatigue. Thewoodcut that was sculptured after the war resembles the seated nudesince it shows the migration that a majority of the Brucke artistswere undergoing at the time (Massey et al., 1998). The practice-basedresearch demonstrates the emotional experiences of the artist sincethe ‘E-ness’ can be identified on the woodcut based on itsaesthetics. In that light hence, the visual analysis proves to givesatisfactory results of the emotional experiences of the migrants inwoodcut.


Insummation, the paper has identifies that the focus of livedexperiences and emotions has unsettled the concept of belonging whicha majority of migrants face. Using the woodcuts the paper identifiesthe emotional experiences of the artists during the times of WorldWar 1. The identification of their emotional experiences is madepossible by the visual research which has some gaps. Time is posed asbeing a social divide. Art pieces (which are representative ofmigration) in museums give an impression of time standing still whichpromotes a ‘them’ and ‘us’ dichotomy where the migrants aredepicted as holding a reality different from ours. The paper henceencourages further research so as to erase this problem that facesnot only art pieces but other historical artifacts.


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