H.3 Domestic Pluralities, Part 2

Sat Oct 23 / 11:30 – 13:00 PDT
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chairs /

  • Erin J. Campbell, University of Victoria
  • Olivier Vallerand, Université de Montréal

A recent special issue of the journal Home Cultures devoted to alternative domesticities concluded by asking for more research on domestic pluralities. In answering that call to action, we seek papers and accounts of artistic or curatorial practice that rethink the domestic normative by considering the intersectional, the transitional, and the in-between. Deploying such lenses as sexuality, race, ethnicity, and colonialism, this panel seeks to destabilize dominant views and narrow perspectives by exploring multiple experiences of the home. We ask: how does the design and materiality of the home mediate power relationships, kinship, friendship, intimacy, sexuality, and identity formation? Topics to explore could include: the LGBTQ home; the home and colonization; homelessness and housing insecurity; migration, displacement, and temporary homes such as tent cities and refugee camps; nature cultures such as pets, pests, and gardens; placemaking.

Erin J. Campbell is a Professor of Early Modern European Art in the Department of Art History and Visual Studies, University of Victoria. Her research focuses on the Early Modern domestic interior. Her publications appear in journals and essay collections, including the Journal of Art Historiography, Sixteenth Century Journal, Word & Image, Renaissance Quarterly, The Cultural Aesthetics of Eighteenth-Century Porcelain, To Have and To Hold: Marriage in Premodern Europe 1200–1700, Design and Agency: Critical Perspectives on Identities, Histories, Practices, and RACAR. Most recently, she was co-editor and contributing author of The Early Modern Italian Domestic Interior: People, Objects, Domesticities (Ashgate, 2013), co-editor of A Cultural History of Furniture, v. II, The Middle Ages and Renaissance, 500–1500 (forthcoming), and author of Old Women and Art in the Early Modern Italian Domestic Interior (Ashgate, 2015). Her current SSHRC-supported project is "Art and the Stages of Life in the Early Modern Italian Domestic Interior."

Olivier Vallerand is a community activist, architect, historian, and assistant professor at the École de design, Université de Montréal. His research focuses on self-identifications and their relation to the built environment, on queer and feminist approaches to design education, and on alternative practices of design. His monograph Unplanned Visitors: Queering the Ethics and Aesthetics of Domestic Space (2020) discusses the emergence of queer theory in architectural discourse. His research has been published in the Journal of Architectural Education, Interiors: Design | Architecture | Culture, Inter art actuel, The Educational Forum, The Plan, Captures, and in the edited volumes Sexuality (Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art), Making Men, Making History: Canadian Masculinities across Time and Place, and Contentious Cities: Design and the Gendered Production of Space. He also regularly writes for Canadian Architect and was co-editor with Erin J. Campbell of a special issue of RACAR about new perspectives on the domestic interior.

H.3.1 Racial Segregation and Domestic Imagery in Cuban Figurative Art, 1940s–1950s

Cary Aileen Garcia Yero, Harvard University

Scholars have noted that during the 1940s, several important Cuban Vanguardia artists began to create paintings that recurrently constructed a blanco criollo (white creole) aesthetic through representations of Hispanic upper-class domestic spaces. This paper contextualizes this artistic production historically, analyzing how it was articulated in relation to hegemonic imaginaries of racial harmony that shaped Cuban society in powerful ways. Discourses of racial harmony manifested in Cuba through notions of racial fraternity and mestizaje. This established ideals limited the political and social realms, restricting Cubans to openly argue for white supremacy and racial segregation, as they would be considered racist and antipatriotic. Within this context, I argue that the arts became a privileged realm to articulate racial tension. The white elite domestic spaces constituted in the canvases not only affirmed notions of a white cubanidad that challenged the ideal of racial harmony, but also worked to visualize latent desires for racial segregation. The imagery, which usually represented elite Hispanic-descendent women within safe, enclosed, wealthy domestic spaces, envisioned a gendered white world that was very difficult to achieve in everyday life, in a country constituted by racial mixing.

Cary Aileen GarcĂ­a Yero is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto and a Research Affiliate in the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. She received a PhD degree in History from Harvard University in 2020. Her research interests include Afro-Latin American art, race relations in the Americas, Cuban history, Cold War history, and cultural theory. Her book project, Colors of Dissent: Race, Nation and the Arts in Cuba, 1938–63, studies the power and limitations of the arts to oppose racism in Latin American societies shaped by ideologies of racial harmony. She has been Managing Editor of the journal Cuban Studies, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. She has taught history courses at Simon Fraser University and the University of the Fraser Valley. Her work has been published in Studies in Latin America Popular Culture and Cuban Studies.

H.3.2 Documentarian of Dust: the "Window-Mirror" Metaphor in Moyra Davey's Unpeopled Interiors

Jenny Wu, Washington University in St. Louis

In a series of photographs of her living space made around 2003, Moyra Davey (Canadian, b. 1958) dissects her diurnal routines and documents a quiet resistance against capitalist metrics of productivity and progress. As such, the photographs of the interior of her New York apartment, four of which I will examine in my paper, are essayistic, addressing personal objects from a critical distance and constituting a domestic archive. The distinct lack of human presence in these four deceptively straightforward photographs, titled Speaker, Floor, Receiver, and Light — and Davey's choice to focus attention instead on space, in its "empty," uninhabited, variations—harkens back to the decade in the artist's life (roughly 1984–94), when she deliberately stopped photographing individuals. Having felt burdened by the notion of "image theft," a term coined by the documentary filmmaker Louis Malle, Davey retreated from the genre of portraiture until her subjects "constituted little more than dust on [her] bookshelves or the view under the bed."

This paper examines the intersections of Davey's unpeopled domestic interiors and Louis Malle's intensely personal ethnographic documentary Phantom India (1969) as case studies of works that trouble what the art historian Blake Stimson has termed the "window-mirror" metaphor, wherein "window" represents the objective representation of truth through the camera lens, and "mirror" the artist's subjectivity as it is inadvertently revealed by the medium. By asking, "Is it possible to dissect one's home and oneself through an ethnographic lens?" this paper probes at the reasons behind Davey's decade-long retreat from the genre of portraiture.

Jenny Wu is an interdisciplinary art historian and writer based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in BOMB Magazine, Harp & Altar, Refract Journal, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She holds master's degrees in art history and creative writing from Washington University in St. Louis.

H.3.3 Being-Home: Thinking Being in Cultural Displacement

Jane T. Griffo, Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts

In this paper, I investigate whether what we habitually call "the sense of belonging," the sense of "home," refers primarily to a state of consciousness, to a dwelling in thinking as Heidegger describes in Building Dwelling and Thinking (1971). I argue that identity is not simply related to race, ethnicity, nationality, or gender but rather to the essence of "Being" and existentiality of "Dasein" — as being-in-the-world. Once we accept that home does not belong to a particular place and is to be thought in its essence in relationship to being, would this entail that thinking being is already "being-home"? As we think about existence, we are called into "Being." Being called into Being is what grants us our identity and existence as such. This exploration will open the way to Hommi K. Bhabha's concept of "The Third Space," which will be considered together with Derrida"s ontological concept of thinking of the "Other." My investigation aims to bring in touch the philosophical understanding of home and identity with the way these are interpreted and represented by visual artists such as Marijke Everts and Do Ho Suh, who locate themselves between places and cultures in a migratory world. The feeling of being in-between places and losing the sense of identity and belonging expressed in their work perhaps reflects the condition of being exposed to more than one culture and of speaking more than one language by birth or migration. Artists such as Evert and Suh push forward new ways of thinking in what means to be in the world in relationship with one another. They create new paths that bridge us as human beings attempting to find an overall common ground in a global migratory time with so many issues to deal with, such as postcolonialism and ethnical conflicts.

Jane Griffo is a Brazilian visual artist, art educator and scholar, pursuing a PhD in the Visual Arts at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA), Portland, ME. International traveller, explorer, and nomadic, Jane left Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, her birthplace, at the age of 20 and since then has lived in many countries in the Americas and Europe, meeting a diverse number of people with distinct views of the world. Being in the world makes Jane reflect on the concept of home that goes beyond one's birthplace and the concept of family that bonds individuals who are not blood-related. Her doctoral dissertation is on a nomadic philosophy with an ontological turn that questions the social constructions of the Continental philosophy that has diffused in the Americas, subjugating Amerindian epistemologies.