The locations of memory: Migration and transnational cultural memory as challenges for art history

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In the contemporary world, a considerable number of artists are on the move, due to
the triple processes of globalization, decolonization and migration. Migrant artists,
and also cosmopolitan artists that travel widely, are transnational cultural workers
with ties to several places. As ‘bridging persons’, migrant artists have more than
one sense of home, and they play a seminal role in the translation between cultures,
and in the transformations between the local and the global. However, the multiple
cultural references in their works also raise the difficult question of the provenance
of their art. This article addresses the issue of how transnational cultural memory is
articulated in works by migrant artists, as well as how to access it analytically. After
outlining the general issues concerning the impact of migration on contemporary art,
the article explores the usefulness of three conceptual frameworks: hybridity (Homi
Bhabha, Stuart Hall); migratory aesthetics (Mieke Bal); and the notion of the work
of art as a migrant’s event (Syed Manzurul Islam). Taking British Palestinian
artist Mona Hatoum as my example, it is my contention that her exhibition ‘Interior
Landscape’ (Venice, 2009) constitutes a migrant’s event.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)121-137
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - migration, migratory aesthetics, migration literature, hybridity, cultural memory, transnationality, contemporary art, global art

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