Monday, March 23, 2009

Cultural Hybridity Week 2 Provocation Comments from Karen Keifer-Boyd on Hyphen-UnPress

Provocation 2 on Cultural Hybridity: How do artists who are interested in the environment address their own cultural histories, roots, and biases -- and those of the people they encounter -- as they work globally?

My response considers the use of a hyphen to suggest cultural hybridity and critical landscape. The hyphen forms a condensed metaphor in which the relationship is highlighted to question familiarity of the ideas on either side of the hyphen, and in order to arrive at a problematic insight of an unknown unity (e.g., see Wimsatt’s theory of hyphen as literary aesthetics). What is privileged in the symbolic conjunction indicated by the hyphen, both visible and/or erased? Consider mid-life, youth-oriented, body-enhancement, knowledge-producing, lip-service, half-full, pre-moistened, post-menopausal, cross-town, arts-based, and other hyphenated creations. Oft times, a hyphen indicates a previously hostile or unsympathetic relationship. Consider race-nation hyphenated constructions.

We move through our lives with multiple identities, sharing one facet of ourselves with one group and a different facet with another, at times, very visible and at other times, hidden in the wrinkles of our lives. Participating in multiple small cultures, our lives are coded in many hyphenated ways. Hyphen-UnPress signifies Deborah Smith-Shank’s and my own (Karen Keifer-Boyd’s) hyphenated names, and it also honors the multiple other intersections and detours that encompass our lives. From this premise, Debbie and I have created Hyphen-UnPress. Our devotion to social and political pursuits was the germinating impetus for creating the new Press, and it now serves as the umbrella under which the creation of the Visual Culture & Gender journal is one subsidiary. This multimedia journal is situated in the online environment and in the lives of its readers enlarged little by little with the translations into different languages.

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