Perpetual displacement as a creative and critical strategy of inquiry into sites of meaning



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Texas Tech University


Displacement is a major mode of thematic and formal stmcturing in much of contemporary art, usually present at the intersections of creation and critique. The concept of displacement was introduced by Freud and used in Derrida's deconstmction.

This dissertation theorizes the contemporary expanded register of displacement beyond its use in deconstmction. It suggests how displacement can overcome its roots in binary logic, and become perpetual, by flmctioning as a deferral, which creates nonbinary alterities. The study shows how perpetual displacement enables rhizomatic nonhierarchical coimections, and supports a way to nonbinary, nonhierarchical postplacements.

Based on the analysis of the art works of seven artists the study proposes a dynamic model of perpetual displacement as a critical and creative strategy. Perpetual displacement is defined as a strategy that works against the notions of an essential, static, timeless, and naturalized stmcturing of an independent reality as something, which can be discovered. It rests on a presupposition that there is no place outside of discourse and for that reason all the products of discourse are suspicious and should be subjected to perpetual displacement critique.

Postmodern thought is no longer binary, and what we must leam to conceive is difference without opposition. Perpetual displacement enables us to enter "between space" created by the basic premise of art criticism that there is always more to the intentional object than what is present. In order to understand presence, we have to displace perpetually experience from defining presence, to keep open the borders of what can be imagined. In art, perpetual displacement strategy by keeping the presence in perpetual crisis, and by forcing its failure, enables an artist to make inroads for the transcendence of the real.

Perpetual displacement can be thought of as context itself thus displacing futile pursuit of metaphysics of origin. Perpetual displacement is a nonhierarchical betweenness, which builds working connections between hermeneutics and deconstmction, between discursive and physical realms, between transcendental philosophy and lived experiences of phenomenology. It is a strategy empowering artist and critic to challenge the limits of our understanding, and to expand the limits of what can be imagined.