Mapping Contradictions: Making Place at the University of Alabama

Fall 2016


This arts-research exhibition asked: How is place produced on campus? What are the intra actions between the human bodies of students and the nonhuman bodies of the buildings, places, symbols, and the culture of the institution? How might we understand belonging differently given these relations? This installation explored the idea of a sense of belonging, the relations and intra actions that produce a sense of connection or belonging with place, and the relationship between bodies and matter that produce place on campus (Massey, 2005).

Maps have only middles, with no beginnings and endings, they are always becoming (Irwin et al., 2006). This installation sought to incorporate map-marking and making with the notion of the dérive, a letting go of a defined path or destination to fully experience one’s context and surroundings (Tuck & McKenzie, 2015). This enfolds a/r/tography inquiry where artist, researcher, and teacher are simultaneous, productive, and relational through time and space. Through a/r/tography, “situations are related to pedagogies of place through a commitment to disrupting binaries… by complicating understandings as relational, singular, and rhizomatic” (Irwin et al., 2006, p. 72).

The performance of the data displayed here reflects the intent of this research to create openings, “where ideas are held tentatively rather than permanently and where conclusions are always a history of changed minds” (Barone & Eisner, 2012, p. 53). Through entwining text and tentatively clipped photographs, a series of relations, intensities, and flows connect, flatten, and fold back on one another. This installation is data in progress, marked maps made during focus groups layered with maps and photos assembled during dérives, lines of flight printed on transparency paper, with text from focus group and walking interview conversations printed on vellum and transparency layered in between. The lines of the dérive’s and the printed text create connections, a rhizome between other pieces of the map, layered and multiplicitious. In this way this inquiry rejects closure, themes, and generalities, instead looking to difference and diffraction, articulation of questions producing questions doubling and folding and moving to openness (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987).

Materials: Vellum, Transparency Paper, Ink, Fishing line, Wire, Mixed Media.

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Barone, T., & Eisner, E. (2012). Arts Based Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. (B. Massumi, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Irwin, R. L., Beer, R., Springgay, S., Grauer, K., Gu Xiong, & Bickel, B. (2006). The rhizomatic relations of a/r/tography. Studies in Art Education, 48(1), 70–88.

Massey, D. (2005). For space. London, UK: Sage.

Tuck, E., & McKenzie, M. (2015). Place in research: Theory, methodology, and methods. New York, NY: Routledge.