Bhabha, Homi K. · On ‘Hybridity’ and ‘Moving Beyond’

Bhabha focuses on the concept of post-colonialism. He begins his essay with a quote by Heidegger which states that a “boundary is that from which something begins its presencing.” This suggests that the concept of something, yourself for example, does not form an identity until it comes across a boundary or something that negates it. Our identities are in part formulated by that which constrains us.

Bhabha writes that the ‘post’ in post-colonialism suggests a ‘beyond’, where time and space collide and where all manner of contradictions exist together. It is not just ‘after’ colonialism or ‘anti’ colonialism, it is about creating/challenging/intervening/resisting in order to bring about societal change in the present. These in-between spaces, as he calls them, are also sites where identities are formed. We are unique and all the mixed up in-betweens that we negotiate create the hybrid.

He gives examples of four artists whose practice focuses on the concept of hybridity: Renee Green, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Pepon Osorio, and Allan Sekula.

Green’s work introduced me to archival art. As someone who has collected and hoarded countless things and materials over time, I am drawn to this way of displaying and interrogating objects and histories through installation. What I like about her work, and what I strive to create with mine, is the openness and questioning it suggests without shaming or preaching to the viewer. Her work reminds me of the video piece I saw at the Vancouver Art Gallery a couple years ago by Stan Douglas called “Luanda-Kinshasa”. Funk music, to me, is the definition of hybridity and resistance. That video played a large role in my work because of its play with documentation, politics of representation, and humor.

Guillermo Gomez-Pena’s family photos are incredible. I like how he recognizes that he’s been an artist since he was born and that everything is performance. Art is oftentimes woven into the everyday of indigenous artists. The following photo is of him taken by his father in his “first drag”, as he calls it. Hybridity also includes the merging and mixing of genders.

Do I care about art that isn’t identity based and or made by people of color? I mean, I love Richard Tuttle and his works but I don’t really care at the same time. There is so much going on politically and otherwise that to make work that isn’t reactionary to its time is boring. I don’t want to see another female nude, I don’t want to see paintings of flowers, and I don’t want to see still lifes unless they are subversive in some way.

Now here are a couple of my favorite funk songs:

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