Friday, 13 November 2009

On Delocalisation

Ernesto Laclau, in his text Subject of Politics, Politics of the Subject talks about the relationship between universalism and particularism through visiting notions of multiculturalism and hybridization. On the other hand, through visiting the notions of modernity and post-modernity, socio-political stances in various countries such as in post-1989 countries, and Argentina, Laclau introduces the term differential identity. Through his elucidation of this term he reflects on the impossibility of embracing / practicing particularity in a segregated zone. In his words: ‘To assert one’s own differential identity involves, the inclusion of that identity of the other, as that from whom one delimits oneself.’ That is to say, if we try to define an identity of an individual or a group in cosmopolite societies, we shall talk about that specifically chosen identity in relation to other identities through difference and similarity. The differential identity proposes an understanding of singular presence in relation to others, and maps the space of those inter-relations and encounters, thus the domain of socio-political, economic, sensuous spaces. Laclau questions the possibility of a pure culture of difference, and I want to further this questioning with the methods in which we allow differences in our contemporary categorisation of local and global. The paraphrasing of these two terms has gained mass-recognition with the increase in the communications between communities, societies and especially countries. Today with the solid presence of Internet in our daily lives, we can receive information on any place or any event in the world and produce knowledge accordingly. We can get to know or see places without physically visiting them or learn about other ways of being without necessarily being in one-to-one contact. At this moment, the quantity and the quality of communication are crucial to pay attention. In one perspective, everything can seem fine, that we are manoeuvring between spaces, places and meanings, or floating on the streams of knowledge and understanding. From a specific perspective, everything can seem just fine.
I am interested in the notions of sharing. That is to say, how we share what we are willing to share; how we define our positions and allow other positions to emerge; how we relate to what we want to be related to… All these questions occupy a larger perspective or trigger an urge to elaborate a grand narrative. Let us drop this picture for a moment. I want to draw your attention to the cause and source of sharing, in other words, who we choose to communicate and what we choose to communicate with whom. This relational aesthetics of communication, for me, implies correspondence with the significant other that we continuously carry within ourselves in order to be ourselves. In other words, the significant other does not necessarily need to be in physical approximity to us, the imaginary of that significant other is sufficient enough to formulate an understanding of who or how that other is. I argue that this imaginary allows us to perform who we think we are. Moreover, in this respect we can no longer talk about an absolute other. We can no longer imagine an unknown; let it be because of the drives of security or necessity of belonging, or fear of the uncanny. Hence, everything we can experience shall be of translatable nature or can be transposed into something familiar. In a sense that what we expect from an encounter is almost a priori defined. These a priori imaginations of experience-to-follow, do make things easier. It is much more fluent to live and sustain one’s own territory. Though, maybe this is just an illusion. Illusion in the similar sense of how we locate and relocate the real…
Delocalisation is a proposal to be in the present of the present without the imagination of what we will feel within an encounter or what we will experience. To be in the present of the encountered is possible through allowing the experience to take its position in a way in which it is undefined or unanalyzed. Since, also according to Maurice Merlau-Ponty, defining and analyzing is an act of stocking the experience but not experiencing the encounter.
Leaving the phenomenological investigation aside, structurally delocalisation is not a counter movement but a position taken in response to the streams of localising and globalising values, let them be the human relations or addressed to objects, places surrounding us. In that sense, to delocalise is not a cleansed way of being in an encounter with a particular context, it is a proposal to allow a flux, a continuous change in framing things rather than generalising a specific encounter into an overall claim, or allowing an encounter to stand for the whole picture (if there can be a whole picture at all).
Delocalisation sprung from an investigation of a potentiality, thus the potential of realising a project without experiencing the particularities, singularities, generalities of the space / place / geography that the project would take place. It is at first a self-referential concept and then a question and a proposal to trigger responses. For the exhibition I have invited seven artists who have not worked with the specificity of Skopje, and asked them to come up with a proposal for a work or a work that would be re-embodied in Skopje. Before I start visiting each work in the exhibition and elaborating their presences, I want to underline the significance of movement for the whole project. Movement, for this project, does not only stand for changing location or travelling from one place to another but also stands for the ides, feelings, objects and materials being in a continuous change of positions. In other words, the project’s core point is the embodiment of movement in its pragmatic and abstract realities.
This project is homage to Lucy Lippard’s suitcase exhibitions that she has started in the late 60’s, with which she has enabled the visibility of art works in various other geographies than USA, such as Latin America and Europe. Lippard’s concept was packing the art works in a suitcase and unfolding the suitcase in her destination points in various art spaces. The suitcase exhibitions did not only allow the transportation of works but also grounded a possibility of sharing tendencies, ideas, and attitudes about and on art. The suitcase exhibitions were part of the era of dematerialisation of art (1966 - 1972), which grasps my interest in many ways. I wanted to investigate the possibility of realising a project akin to Lippard’s thus asked the artists to post me their works or proposals for their works. My main idea was not only to travel with ideas on an exhibition but also with the content of the exhibition that I would unfold when I reach the actual place of the show. My aim in this project is in a way enabling my curatorial practice to posit somewhere beyond than making a selection of art works and putting them on display or making them public. Hence, I have offered artists my presence in case they would favour to involve for the realisation of their works. In a way, I wanted to negotiate the space between the curator, artist and the artwork through shifting positions and labour. Laura Kuch and Marjolijn Dijkman decided to involve me directly in the realisation of their works, whereas other participating artists chose to involve me in the post-production stage. Additionally, unlike Lippard’s exhibitions, the artists in the project live and work in various countries of Europe and they did not only use postal mailing but also internet mailing. I only received three envelopes and the rest was delivered via e-mail. The physicality of movement consisted of sending works from Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Sao Paolo to London and me bringing them from London to Skopje. Moreover, translation plays an important part, literally and phenomenologically. Most of the works are either compiled in Macedonian or made available to access for the Macedonian audience. Additionally, I have chosen artists considering their artistic practices and the diversity that they can bring in the project not through illustrating the concept but through opening up various discussions and grounds of investigation in relation to the concept.
The exhibition Delocalisation is composed of various viewpoints and statements with a variety of influences. The concept is brought in front of the audience in Macedonia through a multitude of positioning, where the audience is asked to formulate their own relating. The exhibition is not a presentation of ideas, it is a gathering of stances to enable production of other stances. I want to revisit Laclau’s positioning of truth, where he says: There is no truth or value independent of a context. With delocalisation, I ask you dear reader: But how to determine a context?
Laclau concludes with the very fact that particular must be performative. Drawing lines of parallelism, I propose that Delocalisation as a verb and a noun (an act and a state of mind) shall be open, continuously redefining itself, its relation (complemantarity/ tension/ mutual exclusion,...) to the local and the global in order to fully realise itself, when we bear in mind that delocalisation is not an undoing but a re-approach to attributions, tendencies of categorisation, mystification, unification.

I would like end by giving my special thanks to Karen Mirza who has enabled my double presence in London and in Skopje; to Yane Calovski and Hristina Ivanoska who have been the causes of this project to take place in Skopje and who have been of great support in the realisation of the exhibition and the publication with their unending energy and enthusiasm; to Ruse Arsov for his unlimited energy and brilliant design capabilities; to Philip Nikolovski for his support in the production of the exhibition; to all the participating artists for their persona and input in the project and to you dear reader who has read till the last word of this pretty long foreword.

Fatos Ustek

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