Theoretical Exhibition – Model

This page describes the process of creating a model of the Turner Contemporary Gallery with the selected artworks displayed.

Sunday 18th February 2018

Today I dressed the model with the artwork that I have selected to be included in the Diaspora, Decoupling and Representation exhibition.

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Saturday 17th February 2018

Having put this task off for many weeks I finally decided to face my fears of working with foam board and tackle this.  I did the work over two days, firstly building the model itself and secondly dressing the model with the artworks. I finally learned to use light pressure to cut the foam board and have more success with my cutting.

Saturday 10th February 2018

Prior to starting work on the model of the gallery, I did some planning. I printed off the floor plans from the Turner Contemporary website and used them to build my model approximately to scale.

I then added some brief workings out of my own to help with my preparation. Overall I would say my model is “roughly to scale”. The angle of the roof I estimated using a photograph.

Theoretical Exhibition Website

This page contains information that relates to the setup of the theoretical Gallery website. The website address that I have chosen is shown below.

The main graphic that I have used throughout the website is below:

Header Image - Folder 1 Grain Extract

Prior to setting up the theoretical gallery, I contacted the Turner Contemporary who very Kindly sent me some images that I could use as part of my website. These images were then edited, firstly to remove the existing artwork from the gallery spaces, then to add the artwork for this exhibition to the spaces. These images were used on the Exhibition Tour page of the website.

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I have set up the website with the following pages.

Below are the Artist Images that I have used as part of the website.

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Theoretical Exhibition Catalogue

This page contains the content of the catalogue being provided with the Imaginary Museum.

I decided to create an exhibition pack of a Presentation Folder and Leaflets to be available in the gallery space and a catalogue to be sold in the shop at the Imaginary Museum.

All the artwork was created in Adobe Illustrator and converted to PDF for supply to the printing company. Each of the images below are a snapshot of the PDF Files that were provided to the printing company.

Presentation Folder Images

These are the Outside Cover and Inside Cover for the presentation folder. The image created was based upon The Slave Ship by J.M.W. Turner and the Turner Contemporary Gallery.

  • The following images have been edited during the production of this Presentation Folder.
    The Slave Ship courtesy of Wikimedia
    Turner Contemporary courtesy of Colorminium

Leaflet Images

Catalogue Images

Dissertation Essay

Diaspora Decoupling and Representation

Introduction

The Diaspora Decoupling and Representation exhibition is hosted by The Turner Contemporary in Margate. This exhibition aims to bring together a collection of works from John Akomfrah, Mona Hatoum, Emily Jacir and El Anatsui. Being Decoupled from and representing their Homeland through their artwork provides the common thread of this exhibition. . As a way of addressing of the consequences of decoupling, Diaspora Artists seek to provide an unequivocal representation of their communities and homeland. This forms a contrasting view that opposes the negative portrayal of these communities that is often portrayed in the media.

Diasporas are migrant communities of people who have forsaken their homeland either by force or by choice. They hope to improve the quality of life for themselves and have been increasingly discussed by the global media. False impressions and misconceptions of these Diasporas are often created by misrepresentation in the media.

By definition, a Diaspora is a transnational network of dispersed subjects, connected by ties of co-responsibility across the boundaries of empires, political communities or (in a world of nation-states) nations. Diasporas are thus de-territorialized, and yet complexly spatialized, imagined communities whose members conceive of themselves, despite their dispersal as sharing a collective past and common destiny, and hence also a simultaneity in time. (Waller and Linklater, 2004)

On the surface, it appears that migration has only begun in recent years; nevertheless, people have migrated across the globe throughout the ages. With the rise of globalisation, migration has become an increasing phenomenon that has come about as a result of the world becoming more accessible.

People who experience life from within a migrating community may encounter issues of identity, through the experience of associating with more than one identity. They identify through their experiences as an individual while possessing a shared sense of belonging to their Diaspora. Over time individuals who have migrated begin to identify with their host population also.

Having de-coupled from their homeland, a Diasporic community becomes autonomous. Individuals within the Diaspora maintain that sense of belonging by understanding their roots and being part of their community.

There are many artists in the world today who deal with issues of Diaspora and Migration through a representation of their disassociated culture. They live separate from their homeland but continue to be rooted in their core traditions and beliefs. The experience of dualism can bring about a sense of isolation and loneliness, being connected to their homeland, yet decoupled and separate. A sense of longing may exist for their past lives, their early community and their long-established routines and traditions. Diaspora Art echoes this sense of rootedness and represents a remembrance or homage to those traditions and beliefs that are at the core of their being. Producing Diaspora Art enables the decoupled to portray a more positive image of their culture and heritage than is presented in the media.

Cultural constructions are avenues for understanding how a group understands itself and wishes to present itself to others. At times when Lebanese and Arabs are considered by mainstream media representations and political discourses in their host societies as terrorists, conflict-ridden, and religious fanatics, these cultural representations gain consequence in understanding the ways in which members of the Diaspora engage with these negative constructions and wish to alter them for more positive portrayals in their host societies. (Abdelhady, 2011)

Some artists use ethnographic research to create artwork, observing a community as an outsider. Spending time with the Diaspora promotes a clearer understanding of their distinct position in today’s society. Through the observation of their daily lives, the observer gathers information about their behaviours, beliefs, attitudes, language and traditions.

When Ethnographic Research is undertaken, the observer can find they empathise strongly with the Diaspora. They can become conditioned by the group culture and begin to develop the same cultural tendencies. Their relationships are strengthened without actually becoming a part of the group.

A Transient Community can sometimes lack a collective identity or historical event that establishes a unified bond. They preserve their cultural heritage and collective identity through the re-invention of old or the establishment of new traditions is commonplace.

The Slave Ship was first exhibited in 1840 and was painted by J.M.W. Turner. Originally titled Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying this painting was an early representation of the African Diaspora. Depicting a ship full of African slaves forced to abandon their homeland Turner was as abolitionist who believed that slavery should be prohibited across the world. He was a frequent visitor to Margate and stayed in the same boarding house every time he visited.

The Turner Contemporary, Margate is built on the site of this boarding house. This Gallery has influenced the regional regeneration of the local area. It is located in the heart of a diverse multicultural community with geographical proximity to Dover. The Turner Contemporary provides a relevant backdrop for the Diaspora, Decoupling and Globalisation exhibition.

The artists taking part in this exhibition, John Akomfrah, Mona Hatoum, Emily Jacir and El Anatsui have no direct links to Margate, nor J. M. W. Turner. However, many of the issues raised by these artists relate to the ongoing discussions in the media around the subject of Diaspora. Issues which have a direct relevance to the immediate community of Margate and the Dover area. The artists all share a similar historical connection to the subject of Diaspora, being decoupled from their homeland. They produce artwork that engages with the issues of Diaspora and the collective cultural memories juxtaposed with the personal experiences of the individuals of the Diasporic Communities across the world.

Dissertation Excerpt

Diaspora, Decoupling and Globalization

Excerpt from Dissertation by Michelle Wright that discusses artists who live away from but continue to create art about their homeland.


Diasporas, migrant communities of people who have left their home land either by force, as a result of war, through natural disasters such as famine and through a desire to create a better life for themselves, have been increasingly discussed by the global media. The UK media focusing only on the current issues that relate to the UK, appears to suggest a false impression of the Diaspora issues affecting people in the UK on a daily basis, these issues affecting the Diasporas, are issues that have existed for many across the world throughout the ages.

Now, more than ever it is especially easy to experience instantaneous interaction with other people around the world as a result of globalisation. We have access to knowledge from anywhere in the world through the internet and the ever increasing access to better technology. It is now easier to travel to anywhere in the world, people trade on a global level and money is easily moved from one country to another. As a result of the world becoming more accessible through globalization, Diaspora and migration is an increasing phenomenon that we are more and more aware of.

Individuals who experience life from within a Diaspora, may encounter issues of identity, in that they associate with more than one identity, not only as an individual but possessing a shared sense of belonging to the transient community they exist within and the community that still exist in their homeland. Over time, it is only natural for individuals who have migrated to begin to identify with their host community also. It is only natural to feel that sense of belonging which comes from the community we are a part of but also from knowing where we came from, understanding our roots. These transient communities, having de-coupled from their homeland without severing roots to their homeland, in a sense become its own autonomous entity.

There are many artists in the world today who deal with issues of Diaspora and Migration whilst living away from their homeland. Although they are apart from the day to day experiences of their homeland, they continue to be rooted in the traditions and beliefs of the nation that they are intrinsically linked too. This duality, born in one place, live in another but still belong to the culture of your homeland can be a place where isolation is experienced, being connected to your homeland, all the time, while being separated. The Diaspora Art created, resonates with the essence of this sense of rootedness to their homeland and represents a remembrance or homage to those traditions and beliefs that are at the core of their being.

Some artists also create work about Diaspora as an observer or an outsider looking in at the Transient Communities. This process of ethnographic research can mean that the artist spends time with the Diaspora they are observing to gain a better understanding of their distinct position in today’s society, behaviours, beliefs, attitudes, language and traditions through the observation of their daily lives and information gathered through other means, such as artefacts and journals.

When Ethnographic Research is undertaken, the observer can find they empathise strongly with the Diaspora, can become conditioned by the group culture and begin to develop the same cultural tendencies, strengthening relationships with the group without actually becoming a part of the group.

A Transient Community can sometimes lack a collective identity or historical event that creates a collective bond amongst the community which can lead to the re-invention of traditions from their homeland or even the invention of new traditions, attempting to keep their cultural heritage alive.

When a Diasporic Community is moving to a new host country it must be anticipated that there will be an element of hostility from the host community, often taking the form of aggression towards individuals that belong to these migrating communities.

Encouraged by the media, it appears to be a common way of thinking in the UK that the influx of these migrant communities will destroy our Britishness, that cultural heritage that we Brits identify with. However host communities are often divided with an element of the resident population welcoming the migrant communities, providing help, support and assistance to enable them become established within the UK.

This amalgamation of new cultures can bring about exciting periods of change and an assimilation that may in fact preserve our so cherished traditions and identity that some cling to fervently. People belonging to these migrating communities have trades of worked in a professional capacity before they had to migrate from their homeland, these skills can only be seen as a positive contribution to the new society that they find themselves in.

Dissertation Synopsis

Reflecting on the amount of research I completed in the second year, I have decided to continue with the theme I have started and prepare my Research Project on the theme of Global Diasporas. My Research Project Proposal is outlined on this page.


Using this form produce an account of your intended area of research.

Student Name Michelle Wright Module Code ARF 601
Chosen

outcome

5000

Word

Dissertation

The imaginary museum illustrated catalogue + essay / website + essay 1 hour presentation + research folder 2500 word essay + 30 minute presentation  + research folder

Working Title

Diasporas, Loss and Globalization


How does – do you see this relating to you studio practice (not less than 100 words)

An ethnography of diasporas, loss and globalization discussing how Post Mondernist Artists across the globe seek to heal and transform spiritual wounds within a diasporic community using artistic expression to remember.

As a theme continuing from my second year practice, I hope to explore the effects of migration on a global basis, providing a deeper understanding of social issues and how they not only affect the local community but the global community.

Having previously focussed on the experience of living in a refugee camp, I hope to focus on the emotional and psycholigical issues that arise through loss, either the loss of a culture or a home, a community, self esteem, human rights and how the worldly issues of globalization not only affect diasporic communities but also the individuals included in those communities.

Having reflected on these issues and why they are so important to me, I have come to the conclusion that I feel an affinity for people in these diasporic communities because of my separation from Scotland, my spiritual homeland.

I intend to use processes of print, sculpture and video installations to communicate these issues.


Outline of Proposed Research Project Content

(Minimum 500 words approx.)

The purpose of this Research Project is to bring together a selection of Decoupled Diaspora Artists that represent their homeland through their artwork. Demonstrating their artistic endeavours to heal wounds and highlight issues affecting diasporic communities. Attempting to show that the emotional and psychological effects of separation are as much about humanity as culture.

For as long as we know people have migrated either through persecution, war or other reasons that effect the population as a whole. However, migratory routes are in a constant state of flux and movement with borders and boundaries continually changing.

Creating an imaginary Ethnographic Museum, an exhibition that brings together the work of Diasporic artists from different cultures. These artists use their artistic process to represent their Diasporic Communities. They address the negative representation of these people by the media, providing an alternative, positive viewpoint.

John Akomfrah is a Ghanian Filmmaker who resides in the UK. Inspired by the pessimism in the media, he continues to make work as a positive representation of the African Diaspora. He recently produced a video installation inspired by a 17th Century Sephardic community of Jewish Refugees. This video installation address issues of migration and religious persecution over a period of five centuries.

Emily Jacir is a Palestinian American Filmmaker who lives away from her Homeland, Palestine. Born in Bethlehem in 1972 she divides her time between Rome, Italy and Ramallah. Holding an American passport, she is able to move freely around Palestine and was determined to use this advantage to “realize the desires of those forbidden to enter her homeland.”

El Anatsui, a Ghanian living in Nigeria is a sculptor who creates beautiful fluid cloths from metals and discarded materials. Mostly concerned with his artistic process and experimentation, his work does not deliberately make reference to Diaspora and Economics. However, his artwork has a subconscious influence that alludes to his heritage and economics of history and the present day.

Mona Hatoum, a Palestinian Video and Installation artist who lives in London. Her work is very personal to her. However, because of her unsettled personal history and sense of rootlessness, parallels are easily drawn with the politics and otherness and collective memory of the Diaspora. She produces Cartographic works that suggests political influence over the mass population.

Simply by being human, it is not difficult to imagine ourselves persecuted and displaced from our homes, countries and families as these diasporic communities often are. It could so easily be us in that situation, with no sense of security from one day to the next.

Artists that present work about Diaspora are often a member of the community they are representing. Therefore, the art may become auto-biographical in nature.

This exhibition will be a biographical body of work that disproves the negative portrayal of the Diasporic population in the media.

That positive representation can be presented in artwork as a contrast to the negative characterization in the media. The presentation of such artwork in an exhibition can in fact become a catalyst for healing and transforming these broken communities.

Mona Hatoum

The two pieces of work for Mona Hatoum that I plan to include in this dissertation are Present Tense (1996) and Continental Drift (2000).


Although the Palestinian artist in exile, Mona Hatoum uses maps in her artwork, these are not to make direct political statements, in fact her focus is more about the aesthetics of the artwork, the materials used and simplification to produce a reduced form that arrive at an abstraction which can then suggest many different associations with the piece.

The piece Present Tense (1996), the first cartographic piece by Mona Hatoum, constructed over the space of a week from olive oil soap bars which has been produced in the West Bank since the 14th Century, purchased by Hatoum in the local market. Red glass beads outlined the division of land in the 1993 Oslo Peace Agreement and were also purchased in the same local market. Originally created to be displayed at the Anadiel Gallery in Jerusalem, Present Tense was later acquired by the Tate Gallery in 2013.

The original intention was to mark the boundaries in the soap with nails, however considering that this appeared “aggressive” and “sad”, Hatoum chose the red glass beads instead.

Using a temporary material such as soap that will degrade over time, dissolving the borders defined by the red glass beads suggests the fluidity of borders that we see in our modern day world. Although conservation of the material was not a consideration at the time of making, newer pieces of soap are being covered in liquitex to conserve the colour and moisture content of the soap. We all associate soap with cleanliness and purity, yet this piece with the beads began to suggest that the soap had become unclean, diseased or untouchable and associations with the plight of the Palestinian people were beginning to take shape.

Having an unsettled personal history, Hatoum describes a feeling of not being able to take anything for granted, not even the solidity of the ground that you stand on.

Continental Drift, another cartographic piece created in 2000 from Iron filings and transparent plastic as a representation of the world from the North Pole. The iron fillings represent the ocean and a magnetized rotary arm passing over the iron filings creates a tidal wave that disfigures and alters the continents, continually shifting to show the instability in our geographical borders, suggesting that fixed boundaries that we know and accept can be destabilized by the presence of an overriding power, an invisible force that can affect our perception of the world.

Maps historically have been drawn and then redrawn time and again, the cartographic pieces of Mona Hatoum inspire reflection on the fluidity of our borders and boundaries and our identities that are intrinsically linked to these fixed delineations. By disfiguring her artwork, so to, our perceptions of the borders and boundaries become diffused and the sense of destabilisation lingers.

Bibliography Entries

Present Tense. (1996). Mona Hatoum [Olive Oil Soap, Red Glass Beads] Jerusalem: Anadiel Gallery.

Continental Drift. (2000). Mona Hatoum [Stainless Steel, Glass, Iron Filings, Electric Motor, Timer] London: Tate Britain.

Hatoum, M. (2000). Mona Hatoum. 1st ed. London: Tate Gallery Publishing.

Asperen, H. and Goudeau, J. (2014). The imagined and real Jerusalem in art and architecture. Leiden [u.a.]: Brill.

The Migrant’s Time Rethinking Art History and Diaspora. (2011). 1st ed. Massachusetts: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.

Thinking With Diagrams: The Semiotic Basis of Human Cognition – Semiotics, Communication and Cognition. (2016). 1st ed. De Gruyter.

Gržinić, M. (n.d.). Irit Rogoff, Terra infirma, Geography’s visual culture. (2013) London: Routledge.

Wood, D., Fels, J. and Krygier, J. (2010). Rethinking the power of maps. New York: Guilford Press.

Mona Hatoum by Janine Antoni. (1998). Bomb, (63).

Persekian, J. (2013). MONA HATOUM: PRESENT TENSE. Art Asia Pacific, [online] (84). Available at: http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/84/PresentTenseMONAHATOUM  [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Martens, A. (2003). Mona Hatoum. ArtScene, [online] (July/August 2003). Available at: http://artscenecal.com/ArticlesFile/Archive/Articles2003/Articles0703/MHatoumA.html [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Cooke, R. (2016). Mona Hatoum: ‘It’s all luck. I feel things happen accidentally’. The Guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/apr/17/mona-hatoum-interview-installation-artist-tate-modern-exhibition [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Um.es. (2017). Cartographies of affect in the work of Mona Hatoum – Espacio articulado. [online] Available at: http://www.um.es/artlab/index.php/cartographies-of-affect-in-the-work-of-mona-hatoum/ [Accessed 24 Oct. 2017].

Postcolonial.org. (2008). Hatoum, Said and Foucault: Resistance through Revealing the Power-Knowledge Nexus? [online] Available at: http://postcolonial.org/index.php/pct/article/viewFile/891/79  [Accessed 24 Oct. 2017].

Tate (2011). Mona Hatoum – Studio Visit | TateShots. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs3DzydSKu8 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

Serpentine Galleries (2011). Mona Hatoum – Mappings. [online] Vimeo. Available at: https://vimeo.com/24541176  [Accessed 26 Oct. 2017].

El Anatsui

The artwork created by El Anatsui that I am including in the imaginary museum is Tsia Tsia (2013) and Diaspora (2012).

Made for the Royal Academy in 2013 and displayed on the outside of the building, Tsia Tsia – Searching for Connection by El Anatsui is made up of nine panels that measure overall 15.6m by 25m and is made from his signature chain-mail of aluminium bottle tops, printing plates announcing births, deaths and marriages and discarded roofing sheets  providing squares of vibrant colour woven together with copper wire which shimmer and gleam in the sunlight giving this piece a sense of vibrancy, akin to a curtain of light. It is only on closer inspection that you see the painstaking detail that has gone into stitching all these aluminium bottle tops together.

All the materials used are discarded items that can be easily viewed as litter, in fact the bottle tops have been collected from the streets. In transforming ordinary objects, that would normally be thrown away, Anatsui alludes to a sense of a life once lived in a different way. The piece also possess a textural freedom that cannot be replicated, suggesting a freedom from restraint and convention.

In an interview with Art News in 2015, Anatsui describes the relation he sees between the bottle tops and the history of Africa where Europeans would bring alcohol from the West Indies to trade for slaves. These drinks are now made locally in in Nigeria the bottle tops symbolize the historical connections between these two continents. Born in Ghana in 1944, El Anatsui now lives in Nigeria where he collects the materials to be included in his artwork.

The artwork Diaspora (2012), an edition of 35 plus 20 artist proofs by Anatsui is comprised on Archival dyes printed onto cotton and hand-stitched then fabricated by Dyenamix, New York.

Emily Jacir

The artwork created by Emily Jacir that I am including in the imaginary gallery is Salt of the Sea and Where We Come From (Osama) 2001-2003.


The question “If I could do something for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?” was the impetus for the artwork Where We Come From (Osama) created between 2001 and 2003 by Emily Jacir. Soliciting requests from Palestinians who faced severe travel restrictions, she sought to realize the wishes of those Palestinians forbidden to enter their homeland. Carrying an American passport provided Jacir with the freedom to move around her homeland that the people she represented no longer had.

One such request was to visit a mother’s grave, place flowers and pray on her birthday from Munir, unable to visit the grave only a few kilometres away because of these travel restrictions. Presented beside the panel with the request is a photograph of Jacir’s shadow over the grave, a fleeting image of a moment in time where Jacir fulfilled these wishes. Freedom of Travel across Palestine is no longer available to Jacir either, and this work could not have been made, if Jacir had embarked on this project at this point in time.

The film Salt of the Sea by Emily Jacir seeks to bring to light the tensions experienced by those wishing to return to their Palestinian homeland. The film is set from a female perspective and seeks to highlight the role of women returning to Palestine attempting to regain that sense of home and belonging. Following the story of an American born Palestinian-American Soraya who returns to Palestine to recover her grandfather’s life savings which were confiscated by the state. Salt of the Sea chronicles the love that Suraya has for her homeland and the rediscovery of an intimacy with her homeland that she had only previously known through her parents stories. Highlighting also her desire to take back her right to return to her homeland, this connects her to the desire of many Palestinians to return to their beloved homeland.

Scottish and Welsh Diaspora

Reflection on the Scottish and Welsh Diaspora

Diasporic Communities have moved around the globe for centuries. The most pertinent examples would be the migration of a Scottish and a Welsh community to the region of Chubut in Patagonia. In search of a new life, the 150 Welsh people who set sail from Liverpool in 1865 on the Mimosa. The overriding reason for this migration was to preserve and not dilute the Welsh language, however despite all odds the Welsh community in Patagonia thrived and continue to grow to this day.

Both communities of Welsh and Scottish individuals of whom historically left the UK to create a better life for themselves and are scattered across the globe, having integrated successfully into new communities whilst continuing to maintain their cultural association with their home land, Scotland or Wales.

A famous historical event in both Welsh and Scottish History is the time when two communities, one from Caithness and one from North Wales, migrated to Patagonia with the intention of creating a better life for themselves. There must have been some resistance to these Scottish and Welsh “incomers” from the native Tehuelche Indians; however they did attempt to help the Welsh settle into the inhospitable Patagonian land.

When the 150 Welsh Immigrants set sail on the Mimosa for Patagonia in 1865, the intention of the Victorian Minister, Michael D Jones was to preserve the Welsh language through the isolation of the region Chubut, their intended destination. However this suggests a paradox in that preserving the Welsh language could potentially destroy the language and culture of the Chubut Indigenous community.

In fact, the Welsh language has only survived in this region because of the assimilation with the local language and customs that Michael D Jones detested so much.

Some 150+ years later, there is an ongoing effort to preserve of the Welsh language in Patagonia with the Welsh Language Project run by the British Council sending three Language Development Officers to Patagonia with the aim of developing and protecting the welsh language in the Chubut region. The number of people in this area learning Welsh is on the increase and in fact 1270 were taught Welsh in Patagonia during 2016, as described in the 2016 Annual Welsh Language Report for the Chubut region.

Today in Chubut it is suggested that 50,000 individuals can claim Welsh Ancestry and 5000 speak Welsh in a community of 550,000 people. So indeed, the original colony of 150, Y Wada have preserved existing Welsh traditions and started some Patagonia Welsh traditions too. The Eisteddfod del Chubut has been running since 1965 and a contingency of Welsh Patagonians also continue travel the 8000 miles to Wales for the Welsh National Eisteddfod.