Winner of Undergraduate Dissertation Prize 2018

We are delighted to announce that Chloe Phillips (University of Edinburgh) is the winner of the Association for Art History’s 2018 undergraduate Dissertation Prize for her essay, ‘Malaysia’s Phantoms: Comparing Artistic Representations of National Identity, from the Merdeka Period to Present Day.‘ The prize will be awarded to Chloe at the Association’s 2019 Annual Conference in Brighton.

You can read an abstract of her dissertation below.

Shortlisted runners up

We also shortlisted four runners up. These were:

Avant-Garde and/or Kitsch: Reconsidering Dichotomies in Contemporary Art and Fashion Through Jeff Koons and Louis Vuitton’s ‘Masters’ Collection.’ by Layla Hillsden (University of Leeds)

Julius Klinger’s Salome: A Manifestation of Social Anxieties in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna.‘ by Charlotte Gregory (University of Birmingham)

‘The Pavia Problem: The Commission, Design and Construction of Pavia Cathedral: 1487-1536.’ by Toby Symonds (St Andrews University)

‘Urban City, Cyber City: How black online artists employ dérive and détournement to navigate the psychogeography of cyberspace.’ Christine Pungong (University of Cambridge)

Winner’s Abstract

‘Malaysia’s Phantoms: Comparing Artistic Representations of National Identity, from the Merdeka Period to Present Day.’, by Chloe Phillips.

‘This dissertation compares the ‘official’ narrative of Malaysia’s national identity, as presented by the government in the art they commission or endorse, and the narratives presented in the works of artists who counter the government’s definition, from the Merdeka period to present day. It analyses these artworks in relation to Malaysia’s political and cultural histories since Merdeka, and contemporary events to draw out two common concerns – its colonial past, and its enforced ethnic hierarchies of present.

It proposes that this realisation offers a new perspective to the existing analyses of Malaysia’s ongoing ‘nation-building’ projects within the fields of social-sciences and economics. It makes the clear distinction between objective and subjective definitions of identity, and exhibits how objective definitions can be easily appropriated and politicised as tools of nationalism. It engages with decolonial, postmodern and contemporary art historical discourses to question, through the case-study of Malaysia, the value of national identity as an artistic label in a globalised and (supposedly) postcolonial world.’

The Dissertation Prize is assessed by our Doctoral and Early Career Research (DECR) committee. Many thanks to those on the committee who read and shortlisted this year’s submissions, particularly Naomi Stewart. The quality and originality of this year’s undergraduate essays was, by all accounts, extremely high. The deadline for submissions for the Postgraduate Dissertation Prize is 2 January 2019.

Image credit: Dzulfikli Buyong, Paper Boats/Kapal Kertas, 1965. Pastel on paper, 53 x 74cm. National Visual Art Gallery Collection, Kuala Lumpur.