Nowhere, Anywhere, Everywhere: Location as Fiction and Function

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Location/Space (Papers)

Presentation Title:

  • Nowhere, Anywhere, Everywhere: Location as Fiction and Function

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • This paper takes up the concept of artistic narrative intervention into various mediated social locations (read: institutions) in several of its forms. Through examining ideas of location as nowhere, anywhere, and everywhere, I throw into relief the mediated ideologies that come to us through various institutions, such as museums and the media, and how artists subvert these ideologies through the use of fictional, narrative interventions.

    The most well known explication and classification of this tendency in late twentieth/early twenty‑first century art is the 2009 Carrie Lambert‑Beatty article Make Believe: Parafiction and Plausibility. In this important essay she defines the term parafiction, where she asserts that, “It [parafiction] does not perform its procedures in the hygienic clinics of literature, but has one foot in the field of the real…these fictions are experienced as fact.” She goes on to cite (and site) many prominent examples of this mode of making work from the Yes Men to the Atlas Group, and analyzes how these works function, thereby laying a firm theoretical foundation for the further grouping of works under this term. Using her definition as a touchstone I argue for the expansion of the term; that for the work to be successful, it does not necessarily have to be experienced as fact, and that ‘the real’ itself is a social construction which is made actual through mots d’ordre as defined by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.

    I take it as my task to add artists and works to her initial list, expanding her rubric, to affirm this term as a valid, generative, and necessary mode of artistic production, and to associate the notion of location as being non‑fixed and shifting depending on the purpose of the narrative. I will also show that, through this mode of working, structures of power are thrown into relief against the background of mediated cultural locations, and their fictional (yet all too real) power narratives exposed. So in addition to my own work, I highlight examples from the work of artists Ilya Kabakov, Tacita Dean, Jimmie Durham, and others. I also draw theory from Hillel Schwartz concerning the uncanny and doppelgangers (unheimlich); from Deleuze and Bergson concerning the virtual; from Arnaud Maillet regarding the Claude glass (portals between realities); and from my own research into the Catholic miracle of bi‑location. These examples will help to form a complex, shifting image of location, and show that it is always negotiated for as being an authentic, physical reality by those who wish to claim and control histories (and their meanings in the present), and conversely is often presented as something of a dream (or nightmare) by those who wish to resist the official version of “place”.

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