Saturday, September 15, 2007

Miwon Kwon's Comments on Nomadism

From Miwon Kwon's "The Wrong Place." Art Journal > Vol. 59, No. 1 (Spring, 2000), pp. 32-43.

It occurred to me some time ago that among many of my art and academic friends, the success and viability of one's work is now measured in proportion to the accumulation of frequent flyer miles. The more we travel for work, the more we are called upon to provide institutions in other parts of the country and the world with our presence and services; the more we give into the logic of nomadism, one could say, as pressured by a mobilized capitalist economy, the more we are made to feel wanted, needed, validated, and relevant. It seems our very sense of self-worth is predicated more and more on our suffering through the of always traversing through elsewheres. Whether we enjoy it or not, we are culturally and economically rewarded for enduring the "wrong" place. It seems we're out of place all too often.

But what is a "wrong" place? How does one recognize it as such, as opposed to a "right" place? What do we really mean by these qualifying adjectives? Is being in the wrong place the same thing as being out of place? And what are the effects of such mis/displacements for art, subjectivity, and locational identities? In light of the intensified mobilization of bodies, information, images, and commodities on the one hand, and the greater and greater homogenization and standardization of places on the other (which, by the way, facilitates the smooth, unimpeded mobilization and circulation of these bodies, information, images, and commodities), I continue to wonder about the impact, both positive and negative, of the spatial and temporal experiences that such conditions engender not only in terms of cultural practice but more basically for our psyches, our sense of self, our sense of well-being, our sense of belonging to a place and a culture.

Finally to work on the expat book. Post your comments soon if you'd like to be included. See my Friday, July 20, 2007 post for more info.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Back in Mad Land by Nicola Jane Barratt

More writing by Nicola Jane Barratt sent from Madagascar

been back 2 weeks now and have adjusted quite well -
the journey here was almost uneventful - small glitch in that i
accidentally booked both flights for the same day so that when we
arrived in Paris, our flight for Tana had left the day before -
whoops! - lucky for us, the US ambassador and his family had missed
their flight to Paris and we took their seats on the flight to Tana
(you'd think we'd all understand the flying thing a bit better by now,
wouldn't you!!) - when we arrived, after our 19 hours of air time, we
were the last ones off the flight, not unusual except that we were
actually seated right next to an airplane exit, and a flight of stairs
had been pushed up next to the door - the steps were only a meter
from our seats but alas, this is Madagascar and the door leading to
the stairs was never opened - communication error??? electrical
error??? finally we were told that the lights were not working near
that exit .... hmmmm... lights? what lights? who knows? (half our
luggage didn't make it so we were the last ones out of the airport
anyway .....(F____ the french and their airline!!!!))

and then you come down the steps into the Malagasy night and your nose is filled with the smell of cooking fires, the streets are dark and quiet, and you know you are back in Africa (sort of).........

but back at home is mostly great - i love my huge (but standard)
european bath tub, even more, i love the lady that keeps it sparkling
clean. i love the seemingly endless supply of hot water from our 100
gallon hot water heater, that someone else pays the electric bill for.
and the other lady who takes care of the children so i can take a long
hot soak. i love coming home from work to the smell of dinner
cooking, with always enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow. i love when
the children are happily ensconced in their classrooms with their age
appropriate activities and professional educators!!! i love that
there are coaches who occupy the older children with round objects
until 4:30 pm and that this will continue until December because it
never rains until then. i love that the phone never rings (never mind
it's because i've had to unplug it so i can plug the space heater in
to the only electrical outlet!). the stove blew up and we lost all
the electric for a while but the internet appears to be working quite
well!!! more soon, love and kisses, nikki