You are on page 1of 12

InWasIsteinKunstler? Eds.KatharynaSykoraetal.

2003

WhatisaTheorist?
undone Atheoristisonewhohasbeenundonebytheory. Ratherthantheaccumulationoftheoreticaltoolsandmaterials,modelsof analysis,perspectivesandpositions,theworkoftheoryistounravelthevery groundonwhichitstands.Tointroducequestionsanduncertaintiesinthose placeswhereformerlytherewassomeseemingconsensusaboutwhatonedid andhowonewentaboutit.Inthecontextofaquestionregardingwhatan artistmightbe,Iwouldwanttoraisethequestionofwhatatheoristmightbe, tosignalhowinextricablylinkedtheseexistencesandpracticesmightbe.The oldboundariesbetweenmakingandtheorising,historicizinganddisplaying havelongbeeneroded.Artisticpracticeisbeingacknowledgedasthe productionofknowledgeandtheoreticalandcuratorialendeavourshave takenonafarmoreexperimentalandinventivedimension.Theformer pragmaticlinksinwhichoneareaservicedanotherhavegivenwaytoan understandingthatwefaceculturalissuesincommonandproducecultural insightsincommon.Insteadofcriticismbeinganactofjudgementaddressed toaclearcutobjectofcriticism,wenowrecognisenotjustourown imbricationintheobjectortheculturalmomentbutalsotheperformative natureofanyactionorstancewemightbetakinginrelationtoit.Nowwe thinkofallofthesepracticesaslinkedinacomplexprocessofknowledge productioninsteadoftheearlierseparationintotocreativityandcriticism, productionandapplication.Ifonesharesthissetofperspectivesthanone cannotaskthequestionofwhatisanartist?withoutaskingwhatisa theorist?. Thenarrativeoftheoreticalunravelling,ofbeingundoneisajourneyofphases inwhichthethoughtweareimmersedinisinvalidated.Thosemomentof silentepiphanyinwhichwehaverealisedthatthingsmightnotnecessarilybe so,thattheremightbeawholeotherwaytothinkthem,momentsinwhich theparadigmsweinhabitceasetobeselflegitimatingandinaflashare revealedtobenothingmorethanwhattheyare,paradigms.Inmyown

2 particularcasethiswasajourneyfromadisciplinecalledarthistory,viagreat roadsofcritical,theoreticalstudytosomeotherandlessdisciplinedplace whichforthemomentwemightcallVisualCulture.

IalsocometotheformationsofVisualCulturefromaslightlydifferent perspectiveofculturaldifference,anditisoneoftheprivilegesofthe culturallydisplacedthattheirviewisalwaysawkwardandaskance,never frontallypositionedandofteninanuneasyrelationtodominantparadigms.. Initiallyfromalong,conventionalandveryantiintellectualtraininginart historywhichleftmeatitsendatacompletelossonhowtonavigatethe intersticesbetweenwhoIwas,whatIdidandtheworldthatIinhabited. Inmyownparticularcasethedistancebetweenthesethreewassuch,that fairlyacceptableexercisesinstretchingandexpandingaprofessionalpractice tomakeitaccommodateone'sconcernsseeminretrospecttohavenotbeen abletobridgethegaps.Thereforeinthefirstinstancemyattentionwas caughtbywhatpossibilitiestheremightbeforformulatingaprojectnotoutof asetofgivenmaterialsorexistentcategories,butoutofwhatseemedateach historicalmoment,asetofurgentconcerns.Roughlyspeakingtheseemerged formeas; - inthe1980saconcernwithgenderandsexualdifferencewhichresultedin anexplorationoffeministepistemologies. - inthe1990saconcernwithraceandculturaldifferencewhichresultedin tryingtotakeontheauthorityof'geography'asabodyofknowledgewith politicalimplications - andcurrentlyaconcernwithquestionsofdemocracyandofwhatmodes; parliamentarianandperformative,mightbeopentoustotakepartinit, whichIamcurrentlythinkingaboutasanexplorationofparticipationandof whatdoesitmeantotakepartinculturebeyondtherolesitallotsusas viewersorlisteners.. ObviouslyIamspeakingofalongjourneyofsome18yearsnow,whichhas includedencounterswithontheonehandthewaysinwhichglobalpolitics constantlyreformulateandreformatthemselvesandontheother, tremendouslyexcitingencounterswithcriticaltheorythatassertedthatthings are'ntnecessarilywhattheyseemandgavemethetoolstoseethroughthem. Buthavenofear,Iamnotabouttorehearseuponyouthelongmarchfrom StructuralismtoDeleuzewithdetoursthroughfeminism,psychoanalysisand

3 colonialism.InsteadIamconcernedwiththedynamicsofloss,ofgivingup andofmovingawayandofbeingwithout.Thesedynamicsareformea necessarypartofmyunderstandingofVisualCulture,forwhateveritmaybe itisNOTanaccumulative,anadditiveprojectinwhichbitsofnewly discoveredperspectivesarepastedontoanexistingstructure,seemingly augmentingandenrichingit,seeminglymakingitacceptabletothepressures ofthetimes.Inmyownthinkingitisnotpossibletodivorcethenotionof 'criticality'whichIseeasfoundationalforVisualCulturefromtheprocesses ofexitingbodiesofknowledgeandleavingbehindtheoreticalmodelsof analysisanddoingwithoutcertainallegiances.'Criticality'asIperceiveitis preciselyintheoperationsofrecognisingthelimitationsofone'sthoughtfor onedoesnotlearnsomethingnewuntiloneunlearnssomethingold, otherwiseoneissimplyaddinginformationratherthanrethinkingastructure. Itseemstomethatwithinthespaceofarelativelyshortperiodwehavebeen abletomovefromcriticismtocritiquetocriticalityfromfindingfault,to examiningtheunderlyingassumptionsthatmightallowsomethingtoappear asaconvincinglogic,tooperatingfromanuncertaingroundwhichwhile buildingoncritiquewantsneverthelesstoinhabitcultureinarelationother thanoneofcriticalanalysis;otherthanoneofilluminatingflaws,locating elisions,allocatingblames.Oneisafterallalwaysatfault,thisisapermanent andongoingcondition,sinceeveryyearwebecomeawareofanewand hithertounrealisedperspectivewhichilluminatesfurtherinternalcultural injustices.Criticalityisthereforeconnectedinmymindwithrisk,witha culturalinhabitationthatacknowledgeswhatitisriskingwithoutyetfully beingabletoarticulateit. Without Ihavecalledthissection'Without'becauseforsometimenowIhave beenveryinterestedinthisconditionasastartingpointforembarkingon newthoughtandnewresearchprojects.Itseemstometoindicateastate inwhichweacknowledgethatwehadsomenavigationalprinciplesand somemodelsofcriticalanalysistohand,butthattheynolongerquite serveusinrelationtoanewandemergentconjunctionofproblems.And morethansimplyacknowledgethemwepaythemtherespectdueby recognisingwhatstrongsupportsthesemodelsofanalysishadbeento us,ofhowawareweareoftheirlack..TheeventsofSeptemberthe11th areformeaveryactualexampleforthestateIamtryingtoarticulate.In thecontextofcriticalthought,theseevents,dreadfulandtragic,camein

4 thewakeofaslowlygrowingrealisationthatthetwinmodelsofpost colonialtheoryontheonehandanddiscoursesofglobalisationonthe other,werenolongerequaltothetaskoftryingtothinkthrough interculturalrelationsonaglobalscale.Suddenlywewerefacedwith whatIhavecalledelsewhere"geographyinrealtime".Realtimeisthe momentinwhichsomenebuloushalfacknowledgedentity,previously nomorethanavagueuneaseorapartiallyavowedrecognition,crashes intoourownrealitybybecomingarealityitself.TheeventsofSeptember the11thwereaninstanceofsuddenlybeingforcedtoliveinrealtime.But withhindsight,manyofuswillconfesstohavingbeenuneasyforovera yearnow;G8summitmeetingsinSeattle,GothenburgandGenoa disruptedbyincreasinglyviolentprotests,theIntifadainPalestineand Israeliresponsespirallingoutofcontrol,evermoreexasperated spokespersonsforinternationalaidagenciestryingtowarnofimpending disaster,CitiesinwhichNGOsaretheonlyinfrastructurestillinplace, opendiscussionoftheconsequencesofslaveryandracialviolenceacross theglobetakingplaceinDurban.Thereforeintellectualswhohavebeen thinkingaboutgeopoliticalpowerrelationsthroughtheircultural manifestationsfoundthemselvesforamomentinastateofbeing 'without'.Theoldorderingoftheworldbetweencolonisersandcolonised wasnotsufficienttocometotermsandanalysetheseevents,norwasthe morerecentorderingviewedthroughthelogicsofmultinationals corporationsandfreetradeagreementsandinternetblurringsofnational ,culturalboundaries.Hadwenotbeenthroughthosemodelsof analysis,postcolonialismandglobalisation,wewouldnothave understoodourstateofsimultaneouslyknowingandbeingunableto know,whichcharacterisestheconditionofbeing'without'.Iwillcome backtothemomentcrystallisedbytheseeventsattheendofthispaper, butIwouldliketoreturntoamoredetailedcharacterisationofmy understandingofVisualcultureasastateofbeingwithout. Whatisitthathasbeengivenupintheshiftfromtheinvestigativeandthe analyticaltotheperformativeandtheparticipatory? - Mostpeoplewouldsaythatitistheabsenceofasolidsenseofhistorythat anchorsandlegitimateseverythingthatisthesourceofgreatestinsecurity.I myselfdonotfeelthatsinceIhavealwaysseenitasanamalgamoftropesand narrativestructures.Historicalresearchoftencontainsfascinatingmaterials butrarelyactuallyexplainsanythingatthelevelatwhichIwantitexplained,

5 asdissonancesanddisruptionsandtrivialperformanceswhichsayasmuch aboutusastheydoabouttheoutsideworld..Theanswerlies,tomymindat least,insubstitutingthehistoricalspecificityofthatbeingstudiedwiththe historicalspecificityofhe/she/they,doingthestudying.Inordertoeffect suchashiftwithoutfallingpreytoendlessanecdotalandautobiographical ruminatingwhichstipulateexperienceasabasisforknowledge,weattemptto readeachculturethroughother,oftenhostileandcompetitive,cultural narratives.Thisprocessofcontinuoustranslationandnegotiationisoften exhaustinginitsdenialofafixedandfirmposition,butitdoesallowusto shifttheburdenofspecificityfromthematerialtothereaderorviewerand preventsusfromthedangersofcompletedislocation.Perhapsitmighteven helpustounderstandthatattheverymomentinwhichhistoricalspecificity canprovideliberationandpoliticalstrengthtosomeofthedispossesseditalso imprisonsotherswithinanoldbinarystructurewhichnolongerreflectsthe conditionsandrealitiesoftheircurrentexistence.TheDeluezeinspired replacementofworkingwithamodelofacultureofsingularity(singulartoa logicofitsownorganisation)ratherthanoneofspecificity(specifictoone particularlocation)hasbeenofgreatimportancetothisdiscussion.

Certainlythesecurityofadisciplineandwithitallthecomfortsofacoherent identity,ofhavingclearsourcesforfundingapplications,ofknowingwhich subjectpanelyourworkshouldbesenttoforassessment.Eventhesimple questionofknowingwhattoanswerwhenyouareaskedataparty"Andwhat doyoudo?"whichalwayselicitspanicstrickensilencesandparticularlylame answers.NowIambolderandmoreconfidentandlookthemstraightintheeye andsay"VisualCulture"andwaitforthemtolookawayinembarrassment, whentheyclearlyhavenotacluewhatIamtalkingabout.Intherecent ManifestaexhibitioninLjubljanatherewasapiecebyLithuanianartist ArturoRailacalledTheGirlisInnocentwhichsimplytrackedonvideoa groupofprofessorsattheVilniusArtAcademydoingendoftheyearcriticsof thestudentsworkandassigningfinalgrades1.Inthesimplestformthispiece rehearsedthewaysinwhichaestheticsandideologiesarelinkedatmomentsof crisisanddemisetoapointthatnoneoftheparticipants,whohadmadetheir nameinapreviousera,hadanyprinciplesbywhichtonavigatethecurrent moment.Theyspokeoftheirloss,insecurity,confusiononebeardedmiddle
. Arturas Raila, The Girl is Innocent in Borderline Syndrome Energies of Defence, catalogue of Manifesta European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Lubljana, Slovenia 2000.
1

6 agedprofessorsaidinasorrowchokedvoiceandnowwecantevenspeakof beauty".Thepiecedidnotassignprogressiveorretrogradepositionstothe protagonists,didnotrehearsealltheobviouspoliticalargumentsaround communismvs.democracy,butsimplystagedtheconfusioninherentaround teaching,judgingandlocatingartwithindramaticallyredefinedparadigms. Whatelsehasbeengivenup?Moreproblematictogiveuphasbeenthevery notionofamethodology,ofthecertaintyofanapproach,ofaproblematic,ofa setofanalyticalframeswhichwecanusetotacklewhateverissueof problematicwearepreoccupiedwith.Itwasrelativelyeasytogiveupnotions ofhistoryornotionsofdisciplinesbecausewehadinheritedthemandhadto eitheracceptoragitatetomakechangeswithinthem,butmethodologywas somethingwestruggledforandinvestedinitsoperationsallofourhopesfor producinganintellectuallybroader,apoliticallymoreinclusiveanda subjectivelymoreimaginativefieldofactivity.Ihaveforsometimebeen interestedinspaceandspatializationandhavebeenveryexcitedaboutwhatis commonlycalledthediscourseonspaceandparticularlyinthosediscussions whichseemedabletounravelsomelessfamiliarmanifestationsofbothsexual andculturaldifference.HoweverrecentlyandtomysurpriseIunderstoodthat itisnotspaceassuchthatinterestsmebutratherwhatithasallowedmeto perceiveaboutthedynamicsandperformancesofambivalenceandof disavowalinpublicsphereculture. Whichleadsmetounderstandthatperhapsthethorniestoftheforsaken elementshasbeenthenotionofthesubjectoftheworkoneisdoing. IncreasinglyIhavebecomewaryofoccupyingareaswhichhaveanagreed uponandsanctionedsubjectfortheiractivities.Inthewakeofallthepostswe havereadandinternalised,Iunderstandthatboththeconsensusarounda subject(forexamplethatweallunderstandeachotherperfectlywhenwesay"I amworkingontherepresentationoffemalesubjectivityindomesticinterior paintingsattheturnofthecentury"orthewaysinwhicheveryonehummed reassuringlywhensomeonesaidtheywereworkingonthe"TheBody".)and secondlytheassumptionsandsystemsandboundariesthatsustainitsvery existenceintheworldasasubject.InsteadIthinkweareinthatphasewhenall oftheworkgoesintotheconstitutionofasubjectforthework.Wehaveasetof concerns,ofissuesandwehaveasetofnaggingdoubtsaboutwhatliesbehind themanifest,andwehaveacertaininvestigativefreedomandwesetthoseto workandwaittoseewhatcomesup.SomanyofourP.H.Dsupervisionsnow

7 dancearoundtheinconvenienceofwhatthedissertationisabout,ofwhatits subjectis,ofwhatwemightnameitwhenitfinallycomesintothefull explorationofitsconcerns.Increasinglyweseemtointerviewpotentialresearch studentsforthemotivationthatunderliestheirprojectandnotforwhatthey wanttodo.Thelesstheyseemcertainofwhatpreciselytheirprojectis,the moreweseemtolikethem,butthelesslikelytheyaretoreceiveAHRBfunding unlesswecanrallytorepackageallofthatuncertaintyintoasetofplausible questions,methodsandassertionsandperhapstheworkisreallyinthis translationbetweenthetwinpolesofdoubtandcertainty. Sowhatthen,whereistheworklocated?Perhapsthatisthewrongquestion, perhapsawhereintimatesafixedandknownlocationwherewemight conceivablyandgoandlookfortheworkandactuallyfind.Perhapsbetteris thenotionofhowdoestheworkfunctionandwhatdoesitproduce,ofwhat effectsithasintheworldratherthanofwhatexistingmeaningsituncovers. AgainandagaininrecentyearsIhavefoundmyselfdealingwithaparticular question,criticallyanalyzingthecontextsandconditionsofitsemergence,the assumptionsonwhichitmightrestandthelanguagesinwhichitsis articulated.ButhavinggonethroughalloftheseanalyticalstepsIwouldfind myselfatalosstoimaginethenextstep:theonethatwouldgobeyondcritical analysisintothepossibleimaginingofanalternativeformulation,anactual significationofthat'disruptedthroughanalysis'culturalphenomenon.On occasion,certainencounterswithconceptualartworkswhicharetakingupthe sameissuesIampreoccupiedwith,wouldprovideabridgetothenextstepfor thought:anactualculturalmaking,notananalysis,ofaconditionIperceivedof theoretically.Theyaddresshowcultureisperceivedwhenitisviewedfrom thebackdoororatanobliqueangle,throughmiscomprehensionand mistranslationandwhatitmeanstobeinapositionofculturallylongingfor thatwhichishistoricallyandpoliticallyforbiddentoyou. Mycurrenttheoreticalarticulationslocatetheartists'workwithinasetof culturaldebatesinwhichthevisualartsrarelyfindrepresentation.Itassumes theformofapractice,ofa'writingwith'anartist'sworkratherthanaboutit,a dehierarchizationofthequestionofwhethertheartist,thecriticorthehistorian, theadvertisingcopywriterorthecommercialsponsor,thestudioorthe director,havethefinalwordindeterminingthemeaningofanworkinvisual culture.

Unfitting WhenwebegantotheorizeVisualCultureasanentityinthemid1990s,it wasverymuchgearedtowardsanamalgamofallofthe'withouts'thatIhave justtriedtoelaboratehere.Inasensewhatpromptedthatenterprise,andIam speakinginthecontextoftheUnitedStates,whereIwasworkingatthetime, wasarecognitionsharedbymanyofusthatitwassimplynolongerproductive tocontinueabattlewiththestricturesofarthistoryasadisciplineandwithall theeffortstoforceittoexpanditsboundaries.Boundaries,smallorlarge, limitedorexpandedareintheendjustthat,settingthelimitsofthepossible. Whatwasrequiredinsteadwouldbeanopenandfluidspaceinwhich numerousformsofexperimentalconjunctionsbetweenideas,politics,images andeffectsmighttakeplace.Furthermoreinthisspaceneithermaterialsnor methodologieswoulddominateandtheendlesstaxonomyofconstitutive componentswhichcharacterizessocalled'interdisciplinarity'couldbe suspendedwith.Dependingontheproblematiconewasinvestigatingor thinkingthroughonewouldbringintothediscussionanythingthatseemed importantorilluminatingwithouthavingtoalignitwiththehistoriesofthe disciplinesitmighthavebeenculledfrom.Herewereturntotheargumentof singularityversusspecificityImentionedearlierandtotheDeleuzianviewof matterasbeingselforganizingratherthanfillinguppreviouslystructured organizingprinciples. Sincethenacertainamountofinstitutionalizationhasinevitablytakenplacein thefield;departmentsandprograms,readersandmonographs,journalsand teachingcurriculumsareproliferating.FairenoughandsinceIamattheheart ofallthisandknowfullwellthatnooneactuallyknowswhatVisualCultureis inthatsimpleformofdefinition,whatwewereexperiencingwasperhapsa slightlymoreorganizedformofthatsamehopedforfluidity.Howevermore recentlyIhavebeenhearingaboutacertainkindofpolicingofwhatV.C.is apparentlyitisthisnotthat,canbedefinedinthismannernotthatone,canbe spokenbythesebutnotbythose,Inshorttheprocessesofterritorialistionhave begunandintheirwakewillprobablytrailtheentiregamutofsubjectfixing andmethodvalorizing,ofinclusionsandexclusionswhichwehadtriedto escapefromafewyearsagointheaimoffixingourattentiononwhatneedsto bethoughtratherthanonarguingwithwhathadalreadybeenthought.I wouldhavewantedtoreiteratemybeliefthattheworkofunfittingourselvesis ascomplex,asrigorousandasimportantastheworkthatgoesintofitting withinadisciplinaryparadigmorthatofexpandingitinordertoaccommodate ourconcerns.ThatitsharesmuchwithDerrideanDeconstructionthoughitsis

9 perhapslesspreoccupiedwithshiftingconsciousnessandismorefocusedon enactmentsandculturaleffects. Mostrecentlywehaveall,inourdifferentcountriesandinstitutionsand practices,hadtothinkabouttheinstitutionalisationofwhatwedo.Aboutthe newlyemergentnamesandtitlesandsocalledfieldswhichweinhabitandof howtheymightinterfacebothwitheachotheraswellaswithfunding structuresandjobdescriptions,aswitnessedbymyfriendtheartistShuLea Changwhohasnowbeguntocallherselfaconceptualisertothegreatenvyof allofus. Thesethoughtsareformeanunwelcomediversion,thoughobviouslya necessaryoneinthecircumstances,forwhatIhadreallywantedtothinkabout herewas7yearsonfromwritingtextsthathadtriedtocharacterizethe studyofvisualculturewhatitwasliketoactuallybeinVisualCulture, workinginitandlivingitoutratherthantotalkaboutitscomingintobeing. Tomethemostsurprisingthingthathashappenedrecentlyhasbeenashiftin thedirectionIamfacing.AtthebeginningsIhaddescribedearlierIwasfirmly facingtheacademyandintellectualwork,theyweretheframesofreferences throughwhichIarrivedatartworksandtheywerethearenasinwhichthe workcirculated,albeitwithmanyhiccups,andwithwhichitwasindialogue. SuddenlyIfindmyselffacingtheartworld,bywhichImeannotsimplythat thisiswheretheworkisgainingresponsebutisspurringsomethingin response.Theprocessisstillmuchthesame,alotofeclecticreading,goingto talksandexhibitionsandfinallywriting.Theeffectshoweverareverydifferent. Ihavenothadenoughtimetofullyunderstandorthinkabouttheimplications ofthisshiftbutitdoesseemtometohavesomethingtodowiththeshifttoa performativephaseofculturalworkinwhichmeaningtakesplace,takesplace inthepresentratherthanisexcavatedfor.Whereitsoperationsarenotthrough signifyingprocessesorthroughenteringasymbolicorder,whichIsupposeare thehallmarksofacademicintellectualwork,butthroughformsofenactment. Throughlanguagesandmodesofwritingthatfocusonaddressratherthanon whatBarthescalledthefilialoperationsoftexts.AsPeggyPhelansays;"Iam alsointerestedinthewaysinwhichtheperformativeinspiresnewterms;I thinkthatsoneoftheperformancesthetermperformativityenacts".Perhaps whatIamtryingtosayisthatitismyunderstandingofaresponsethathas changed.Perhapsithasmovedfromresponseasaffirmationofwhatyouhave said,whichiswhathappenswhensomeonequotesyourwork,toresponse perceivedasthespurtomakesomethingasyetnonexistent.

10 Entangled InclosingIwishtogobacktothatprocessofrecognitionofthelimitationsof postcolonialandofglobalisationdiscoursesImentionedinrelationtothe momentofSeptemberthe11th.EarlierinmythinkingIhadbeeninterestedin thepossibilitiesthatVisualCulturemightofferasafieldconstitutedoutof sexualorculturaldifference,outofperformativityoroutofmultiplicitiesrather thanthesebecomingthesubjectoftheworkorthattheybeappliedascritical modelsofanalysistovariousmaterials.Thatthesewouldproducequestions ratherthancharacteriseconditionsandthatthosequestionscouldbetaken anywhereatall,farfromtheirseeminglyappropriatematerials. MorerecentlyIhavebeenwonderingaboutthepossibilitiesinherentinnotions ofCreolisationtoprovidemorecomplexandmoreappropriatemodesof culturalengagement.Wonderingwhetherwithinnotionsofcreolisationwe mightenabletogetawayfrombinariesofcolonisersandcolonisedaswellas fromlaternotionsofhybridityinwhichthisandthatcametogetherinto somethingelse,somenewerandmorecontemporaryculturalformation.In particularIhavebeentryingtothinkofwhatthecreolisedmuseummightseem likeasaformofencounterbetweenthestructureofthemuseumandissuesof culturaldifference. AttheDocumentaPlatformofCreolitewhichtookplaceonSt.Lucialastmonth amodelbegantoemergewhichdoesseemtohavepotentialasanalternativeto someofthepostcolonial,postfeudalparadigms.Inthisunderstanding,as articulatedbyStuartHall,GerardoMosqueras,DerekWalcottandmanyother participants,Creolisationisaprocessofculturalmixings,anentanglemntof culturesintheresultofslavery,colonialismandPlantationculture.Its componentsarehighlyslipperysignifierssincetheoriginalsCreolesareWhites whothroughlongexposurehavelosttheiroriginaryidentity.Whitesettlers whohavebecomeindiginised,facingblackslaves,Africansborninthelocation oftheirenslavement.Creoliteistheconstructionofaprojectoutofthese entangledmixings. Theexistenceofacultureasaformofentanglementswhichhavelosttheir originsandexistasmutualinterlocutionsratherthanas,forexample, hybridisedoutcomesseemsveryintriguing.WhilethinkingofitIwasalso watchinghoursofvideoworkbyKutlugAtaman,tryingtowritethecatalogue forhisexhibitioninattheBAWAGFoundationinVienna.Inoneoftheworks WomenWhoWearWigs2whichwasshownattheVeniceBiennaleandin
2

www.kutluataman.com , Women Who Wear Wigs, 1999.

11 LondonattheLUXlastyear,wemeet4Turkishwomenwhowearwigsfor variousreasons;oneisapoliticalactivistwhohasbeenontherunfor30years andwhouseswigsaspartofherdisguises,oneisasophisticatedjournalistwho hasbreastcancerandhaslostherhairthroughchemotherapy.Shewearsawig toreproducetheluxurianthairshehaslostandofwhichshewassoproud.One isadevoutMuslimstudentwhoisnotallowedtocoverherheadwithascarfat thesecularuniversitysosheexperimentswithawigassomeformofcovering protection.ThefourthisDemetDemir,transsexual,prostitute,politicalactivist forleftwingyouthassociations,humanrights,,theenvironment,feminism, experimenterwithLesbianrelationships,ironicraconteurofpersonal melodramas,tellerofhairraisingtalesofpolicebrutalitywhichincluded repeatedharassment,beatingsandtheshavingofherhead.VideoStills. DemetDemirbecameastudentin1982immedaietlyfollowingthemilitary coupinTurkeybyjoininganightschoolwheresheorganisedameetingto markthe1stofMay,andwasultimatelyexpelledfromtheLeftwingyouth AssociationforHomosexuality.Shewasthefirsttransvestitetobecomea memberoftheHumanRightsassociation,hadanearlysexchangeoperation, educatedherselftobecomeshesaysafeministandanenvironmentalist,has foughtlonglegalbattleswiththepolice.Allthissidebysidewithruminations aboutclientswhoaredisappointedtofindoutthatshedoesnthavebotha penisandavaginaforthesedays,shesays,oneneedsboth.Allofthesearenot contradictions,theyareentanglementsandmixingsthatproducearichfieldof possibilities.InthisworkAtamanhasproducedanewsubjectintheworld,a creolisedsubjectinwhichsomethingcalledWWWWunframesallthetedious narrativesaboutwomenandIslam,womenandtheMuslimstatetoldinthe WestabouttheEast,andproducesinsteadaheadymixofwomenandsexuality andIslamandpatriarchyandthestateandvanityanddesireandrebellionand melodramaticsentimentallconnectedthroughwigsandexceedingthe boundariesofanythingthatmightactuallycirculateundertheaegisofthe propernameofwoman. InasensethatiswhatIwishforusinVisualCulture,thatwebecomeafieldof complexandgrowingentanglementsthatcanneverbetranslatedbackto originaryorconstitutivecomponents.Thatweneverbeabletoholdontothe divisionsthathaveseparatedartistfromtheorist,sinceliketheWhitesettlers andtheBlackSlavesofCaribbeanCultureinthe18thcenturyweendlessly mimiconeanother.Thatweproducenewsubjectsintheworldoutofthat entanglementandthatwehavethewisdomandcouragetoarguefortheir

12 legitimacywhileavoidingthetemptationtotranslatethem,orapplythemor separatethem.