Between being and becoming

negative space

Negative Space © Denise Startin

‘As Stuart Hall reminds us, identity is a matter of becoming as well as being:

It belongs to the future as much as to the past. It is not something which already exists, transcending place, time history and culture. Cultural identities come from somewhere, have histories. But, like everything that is historical, they undergo constant transformation. Far from being eternally fixed in some essentialised past, they are subject to the continous ‘play’ of history, culture and power. Far from being grounded in a mere ‘recovery’  of the past, which is waiting to be found, and which, when found, will secure our sense of ourselves into eternity, identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, the narratives of the past.’

Geoffrey Batchen, Each Wild Idea, Writing, Photography, History, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England: 2001, pp.79


Judith Butler

“Performativity” Butler says “is construed of that power of discourse to produced effects through re-iteration, to produce what it declares.” Performativity however, is only possible within the constraints of  “iterability.” We are spoken more than we speak, done more than we do; therefore we are “constrained by what remains radically unthinkable” and, in the area of sexuality “by the radical unthinkability of desiring otherwise”. Inhabiting a sexed position then always engages citational practices, “citing the law under and through the force of prohibition and taboo, with the threat of ostracism and even death compelling and controlling the shape of production but without fully pre-determining it.” “Agency” then, according to Butler’s reconfiguration, is always “on drugs”. It is always under the influence of language and can only take place within our reiteration of the reiterable. Continue reading

Subjects of dispersal

Hands:Holding by Rune T

‘Foucault uses the language of space to highlight the formative effects of discourse and the instability of the plane it constitutes. Foucault’s analytics and politics are inextricably linked to creating an alternative physics of space. His alternative spatial text-ure both represents itself as a more accurate depiction of the real work of power and shifts the paradigmatic grounds for conceiving power. Power has generally been conceived as a dichotomous structure pairing intent and result, cause and effect, oppressor and oppressed. But Foucault levels the dimensionality of the social edifice, making power, knowledge, and subjects alike the temporary internal effects of a dispersed, evanescent field. The subject loses its organic solidity to appear like a bubble within a perpetually plastic substance. Subjects appear ‘in-different’ neither casually prior to a power’s mechanism, not imaginative outside its perpetually [re]formative web: Continue reading