Interconnected In-Between: On the dynamics of abjections, animism, temporality and location in nomadic art practice
Chelsea College of Arts
This practice based PhD research is conducted through my installations One Hundred Ten Thousand (2011-12), Rituals to Mutations (2013) and Blackballing (2013). It is a journey from the sites of propagation: marginalised villages in the outskirts of Beijing and a forgotten Buddhist temple in Chongqing, Central China, through the production processes to exhibitions in global venues. This research examines the potentiality of nomadism as a political position. This specific agency provides a unique setting through which this inquiry makes a contribution to the field of contemporary art in the context of globalisation, nomadic subjectivity, new materialism and the post- human/post-anthropocentric condition, and to visual language. It argues for a more ethical and material relationships with others: human and non-human.
I examine how transformative, intersubjective relations, nomadic politics, extensive lived experience, local knowledge and different levels of collaboration might be addressed by my artworks and how these processes might be encountered by the viewer. I explore how the use of these different fluid relations in my work might transform our sense of ourselves and our relationship with others, human or not. As a process of re-reading and reconstituting, starting from specific cultural details like those of Chinese village graveyards, and interconnecting spatial, historical, socio-political and metaphysical reconfiguration, the research project examines the possibilities of merging them with emergent, unexpected bodies of knowledge and systems of interdependence.
Julia Kristeva’s psychoanalytical notion of abjection is a frame of reference through which I develop methodological tools. In this research, I situate this psychoanalytical, Eurocentric and rather limited notion in more anthropological and extended fields of relationships, especially in relation to notions such as ‘becoming’ (Gilles Deleuze) and animism (Anselm Franke), and to local knowledge and nomadic discourses (Rosi Braidotti). I do this in order to examine how oppositional relations between the Self and the Other and in dualistic concepts might be transformed.
I evaluate my research in a dialogic relation to other artists’ works, via reflexive conversations alongside theoretical propositions and in relation to my political nomadic position as a researcher and practitioner.
This research leads to a re-evaluation of how concepts of abjection and resistance might be rethought in art practice. By integrating processes of abjection with Deleuzian ‘becoming’, my artworks explore how transformative processes of, for example, material(ities), rituals or pollution, might be engendered in systems of relations in which oppositional relations between subjects and objects (human and non-human) are destabilised and operate inclusively.