Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bhabha: Movement Between Difference (and Dimensions)


This photograph is titled “Reality disfunction : Portal.” Its surrealist and magical qualities are representative of Homi Bhabha’s concept of the “beyondness” as discussed in the introduction of The Location of Culture. He describes the postmodern, postolonial, postfeminist, etc. “present” as a moment which understands itself as being “beyond.” He describes “beyond” as that which is “here and there, on all sides, fort/da, hither and thither, back and forth” (1). Much like Homi Bhabha’s understanding of the present “beyondness,” the box in this photograph is simultaneously present and not, appearing to flux between a definitive and solid space and some ethereal other place which reduces the object to a phantasm.
Jean-. Reality Disfunction : Portal. 2009. Flickr. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. 

Homi Bhabha is ultimately interested in the construction and function of cultural identity, especially as it emerges of “intererstices- the overlap and displacement of domains of difference – that the intersubjective and collective experiences of nationness, community interest, or cultural value are negotiated. How are subjects formed ‘in-between’, or in excess of, the sum of the ‘parts’ of difference?” (2). Again, I look to the box in this photograph. How can I understand the object at hand to be a box when it exists here inbetween two opposing dimensions, each assumedly containing different parts?

Bhabha suggests there to be evidence for “a more transnational and translational sense of the hybridity of imagined communities” (5). In other words, communities are not created necessarily by similarity, but must be mediated and move between difference. It is this movement between opposition that prevents “settling into primordial polarities” and neglects need for hierarchy (4). He writes, “private and public, past and present, the psyche and the social develop an interstitial intimacy. It is an intimacy that questions binary divisions through which such spheres of social experiences are often spatially opposed” (13). It is the movement between two opposed realms that collapses these binary oppositions which claim social difference and hierarchy, thus allowing for the development of community. Returning to the photograph once again, we acknowledge an impression of a trans-dimensional box which has been created by its movement between two opposed spaces, one physical and one ethereal. Its trans-dimensionality is essential to our critical interpretation of it as a meaningful subject of art. To understand this we must understand its movement, thus bringing us back again to Bhabha’s understanding of identity within movement between difference.

1 comment:

  1. This really is the crux of it: "In other words, communities are not created necessarily by similarity, but must be mediated and move between difference." I might add that the communities are not created by their internal, essential, natural characteristics, but by the relationships of difference between themselves and the "others" that surround them. Great work...especially with the flu!!

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