An investigation of cultural dislocation in the work of selected artists
De Vries, Jetteke
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This dissertation sets out to investigate cultural dislocation in the work of Leora Farber (1964), Viviane Sassen (1972), George Alamidis (1954) and my art practice. The paper begins by highlighting the importance of this study and defines terminology for the purpose of this research. In addition an explanation of the research methodology used is provided. The study is contextualised through a discussion of writings by Stuart Hall (1997), Edward Said (1987), Heidi Armbruster (2010), Chloe Sells (2011), Katheryn Woodward (1997), Michel Foucault (1967), Leora Farber (2012) and Lorin Friesen (2013). An analysis of the selected artists’ work reveals an investigation of cultural dislocation within diverse cultural contexts. Farber investigates her position as a second generation Jewish woman in post- colonial, post-Apartheid South Africa through the use of three protagonists. She does this in an attempt to create a lasting Jewish / South African hybrid identity. She explores not only her Jewish heritage and its connotations, but also the changing notions of white identity in post 1994 South Africa. Sassen, in her photographic depiction of obscured African subjects, challenges the viewer’s perceptions of Africa and positions herself as being ‘in-between’ Africa and the Netherlands, where she “will always be the stranger … and will never be part of the culture” (Sassen in Jaeger 2010). Alamidis’ work explores cultural dislocation in the context of migration, eloquently expressed through the use of the identity cards of 1950s Greek immigrants as visual metaphors for the loss of identity. I explore cultural dislocation through the history of three female protagonists (my grandmother, mother and myself) and their migration between the Netherlands and Southern Africa. The protagonists’ cultural narratives provide an historical context for a discussion of my art practice in the form of an exhibition titled Discovering Home. The conclusion outlines the research findings and identifies possible areas of future research. The main research finding reveals that the formation of a new subject identity, post migration, is dependent on a specific (historical) time and (geographical and psychological) space. An area of possible future research, in the context of cultural dislocation, is the use of Foucault’s (1967) theory of heterotopias to explore the idea of the ‘third space’ functioning as a personal heterotopia.