The Faculty of the Arts will be hosting guest speaker Leora Farber, Director of the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Art Design and Architecture Research Centre, Visual Identities in Art and Design.
From the Press Release: “The Faculty of the Arts will be hosting guest speaker Leora Farber, Director of the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Art Design and Architecture Research Centre, Visual Identities in Art and Design. Date and time: Thursday, 12 May at 3pm. Venue: Boardroom (Building 5, Room G08), Arts Campus, 24 Du Toit Street (corner Du Toit & Struben streets), Pretoria. Title: Confronting or embracing the foreigner within? Hidden faces of identities, as played out in the art exhibition, Dis-Location / Re-Location ABSTRACT: Julia Kristeva’s (1991:1) advocation of the ‘stranger/foreigner’ as that which “… lives within us [as] … the hidden face of our identity …” is examined in relation to how it plays out in my art exhibition Dis-Location/Re-Location. The latter explores the ‘immigrant’ experiences of two personae: myself, and a colonial Jewish woman, Bertha Marks (1862-934), whose experiences of alienation and dislocation as an immigrant to South Africa from England in 1886, evokes tentative commonalities with my experiences of ‘foreignness’ and ‘belonging’ in post-apartheid South Africa, as a post-colonial, white, Jewish, second-generation female. In the images, the protagonist  ‘grafts’ indigenous South African aloes into her skin, in an attempt to conjoin racial and cultural differences. However, as Colin Richards (1997:235) notes, this process is not without tensions; grafts can be “…monstrous misfits attesting to the effects of our most well-intentioned ‘cross cultural’ contacts”. Although the protagonist’s grafts arise from her desire to integrate, they also signify cultural contestation. As foreign to the body, the aloe plant signifies an indigenous, ‘alien’ culture, which takes root and disfigures, turning the protagonist into something akin to a ‘monstrous misfit’ or hybrid herself. Emphasis is on contact and subsequent combination of difference through processes that imply bodily violation, disfiguration and pain. These act as indicators not only of physical, but psychical trauma inherent in acculturation processes. By grafting ‘the other’ into her body, Bertha, unsuccessfully, and I, more actively, confront the ‘foreigner’ within. For both, closeness to the other within is simultaneously threatening and liberating, as it opens up an ambivalent space of abjection, which threatens “… the integrity of the … self”, yet, offers a generative “… liminal space where self and other may intermingle” (Kristeva 1991:53). Analogies between Kristevian abjection and Homi K. Bhaba’s (1990:219) ‘Third Space of Enunciation’ are suggested, as it is in the liminal spaces of in-betweenness that potentially new formations of hybrid, post-colonial identities are evoked. SOURCES CITED Bhabha, HK. 1990. The third space: Interview with Homi Bhabha, in Identity, community, culture, difference, edited by J Rutherford. London: Lawrence & Wishart: 207-221. Kristeva, J. 1991. Strangers to ourselves. New York: Columbia University Press. Richards, C. 1997. Graft, in Traderoutes history and geography, edited by O Enwezor, 1997. Johannesburg: Metropolitan Council and the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development: 234-237. BIOGRAPHY: Leora Farber graduated with a B.A. Fine Art from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1986 and with a M.A. Fine Art (cum laude) from the same university in 1992. Farber has been exhibiting nationally and internationally since 1993. Her works are housed in numerous South African public and private collections. She is currently Director of the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Art Design and Architecture Research Centre, Visual Identities in Art and Design. She is editor of the following volumes: Representation and Spatial Practices in Urban South Africa (2008) and Imaging Ourselves: Visual Identities in Representation (2009). Her most recent edited volume, On Making: Integrating Approaches to Practice-Led Research in Art and Design, is forthcoming in April 2011. She is currently registered for a practice-based Ph.D. in Visual Art at the University of Pretoria. INVITATION: All are welcome to attend, including fourth year students and beyond. If you wish to attend, please supply your name to Prof Allan Munro at by Wednesday 11 May 2011. Irene BotesFaculty of the ArtsTshwane University of TechnologyTel: 012 382 6175Fax: 012 382 6178E-mail: OR www.tut.ac.za”