The Art of Un-belonging

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This practice-based research sets out to explore artistic strategies that destabilise fixed notions of belonging and identity in the context of globalisation and diasporic art. Drawing on Glissant’s concept of Relation ([1990], 1997) in combination with feminist and new materialist theories (Braidotti, Haraway) and an “anthropology beyond the human” (Kohn, 2013), the research challenges a dualistic conception of self/Other and contributes to the decolonisation of contemporary art by opening and reinscribing the concept of belonging and identity beyond the human.

The practice element consists of three discrete yet interrelated artworks that
challenge an ethnocentric and anthropocentric conception of belonging. The
multilingual video-performance Surya Namaz (2018) is a personal investigation of yoga and namaz, the Muslim prayer ritual, exploring the potential of transcultural performance, opacity and multilingualism to undo fixed notions of belonging. Kahvehane Kongresspark (2016), a temporary café, ceramic cups/saucers and a site-specific performance in public space and Trans Plantations (2018), an installation of cups/saucers and coffee beans cast in porcelain in combination with an audio-visual element, are concerned with the colonial history and human entanglements with coffee, taking the exploration of belonging beyond the anthropocentric.

The written thesis is composed of three chapters. Chapter 1 contextualises the
research by providing a brief overview on the globalisation of art and introduces
Glissant’s theory of Relation as guiding framework of the thesis. This part also
reflects on feminist art and theory’s relevance for current discourses concerned with belonging and identity, exploring the potential of feminist strategies for the
complication of binary thinking. The subsequent chapters are guided by and
complement the practice element of the thesis through ways of critical analysis and performative writing, addressing questions posed by the practice in addition to case studies of contemporary artworks. Based on the conception of identity as relational, the research argues that Relation is central to the re-thinking of belonging and identity.
Original languageEnglish
  • Orlow, Uriel , Supervisor, External person
  • Sprio, Margherita, Supervisor, External person
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


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