Epilogue: The Political Exigency of the Oblique
In 1992, the artist Mona Hatoum created the installation Light Sentence at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. The work consisted of a tall arrangement of wire-mesh lockers surrounding a single light bulb, which moved slowly up and down, suspended from a simple wire; the installation resembled a large cage or prison cell. Hatoum noted that the light projected the locker grid onto the walls of the exhibition space, creating the impression that the entire room was a cage in which one was enmeshed or entrapped: “because the light bulb [was] moving very, very slowly, there’s a feeling of displacement, disorientation that’s created by the simple movement of the light, which shifts the ground under your feet and gives you an uneasy feeling when you enter the space, that something is not quite right.”1 This work provides not only a poetic entanglement of the key themes that emerge in this book—imaging and mediation, refraction as a political and aesthetic strategy, eccentric subjectivity, political displacement and transnational circulation—but also a remarkable parable for the feminist scholar interested in signifying practices in the global present: as she focuses on the object illuminated before her, she risks obscuring the refracted light encircling her, effecting the projected cage in which artwork, gallery, maker and viewer are enclosed. In focusing on the projections in the institutional space, she may turn her back on the object itself. To see the two cages requires an eccentric and prismatic vision, attentive to the diffraction and refraction of light, as well as to active processes of mediation and semiosis.
KeywordsCoalitional Politics Optimistic Assertion Exhibition Space Prison Cell Refract Light
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