Displacement and the Oral Narrative of a Sari: Between Life and an Exhibition
Sutapa Biswas (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Paper short abstract:
My paper explores migratory aesthetics and trauma in relation to South Asian diasporic personal oral narratives, focusing on four of my site-specific art works (interventions) and based on empirical research working with the complexities of the sari as garment, metaphor, symbol and psychic entity.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores migratory aesthetics and trauma in relation to South Asian diasporic personal oral narratives. I use an art project and exhibition based on empirical research working with the complexities of the sari as garment, metaphor, symbol and psychic entity. Centring on contemporary life as explored through the spatial stories of a personal garment belonging to each individual - in this case the sari, a traditionally South Asian garb - I chart the journey of a series of different site-specific art works beginning at Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford), and including PlugIn Gallery (Winnipeg), the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Oslo) and Tate Britain (London). Through addressing the exhibited works and spatial stories within the structure of each artwork / installation, my paper explores questions of trauma, as Cathy Caruth has argued 'not merely experienced as repression or defense, but as a temporal delay that carries the individual beyond the shock of the first moment'. I consider trauma not only as a 'repeated suffering of the event, but is also a continual leaving of its site. […] By carrying that impossibility of knowing out of the empirical event itself, trauma opens up and challenges us to a new kind of listening, the witnessing, precisely of impossibility'. (Cathy Caruth, "Trauma and Experience: Introduction", in Explorations in Memory, ed. Cathy Caruth, Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 1995);emphasis in original. This 'impossibility' generates an art / anthropological praxis which I describe here as 'between life and an exhibition'.
Creative Art/Anthropology Praxis as Revelation and Resistance