Identity, Migration and Displacement in Art: Tracing the Articulation of Franco-Belge and Franco Colonial Trauma through Architecture in Art

    • Cover Porto 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Suzannah Henty, Panthéon-Sorbonne Paris 1


    The pans-generational experience of displacement in the construction of identity is marked by trauma, disorder and a continued need to translate semantic codes of belonging between the colonizer and the colonized. How can the post-colonial condition be experienced while there remains to be a continued translation of that which constitutes a cross-cultural identity? Is it possible that the scars of migration of the colonized into the land of the colonizer can be trans-generationally healed and thus create a heterogeneous condition of co-existence in contemporary Europe? The challenge of this in the neo-liberal context both here in Europe and internationally is the greatest challenge to the opening of a society in which historically hostile relations have existed. The role of art – and more broadly, cultural production – is thus key for breaching this tension and confronting the present with the past. My proposed contribution is the examination of the use of architectural forms and the creation of geographical positioning in the artwork of Franco-Algerian artist Kader Attia and Congolese and Belgian artist Sammy Baloji. Through examining the creation of meta-historical narratives of trauma in the artwork of these two artists, I seek to understand the condition of colonialism expressed in contemporary art in the Franco context. With a specific interest in architectural motifs, this proposed contribution looks at constructed spaces in transgressing the colonial experience and the making of a post-colonial identity.