What do we talk about when we talk about displacement

Blog Art Spy >

Building a shared bibliography on displacement means building a displaced bibliography. It requires reading the same book in different languages, in different places, in a different format.

Starting from our shared and displaced bibliography, we could draw a constellation, an archive of fragments.





noun: displacement; plural noun: displacements

  1. the action of moving something from its place or position.
    "vertical displacement of the shoreline"
    • the removal of someone or something by someone or something else which takes their place.
      "males may be able to resist displacement by other males"
    • the enforced departure of people from their homes, typically because of war, persecution, or natural disaster.
      "the displacement of farmers by guerrilla activity"
    • the amount by which a thing is moved from a position.
      "a displacement of 6.8 metres along the San Andreas fault"

  2. the occupation by a submerged body or part of a body of a volume which would otherwise be occupied by a fluid.
    • the volume or weight of fluid that would fill the volume displaced by a floating ship, used as a measure of the ship's size.
      "the submarine has a surface displacement of 2,185 tons"
      the volume swept by a reciprocating system, as in a pump or engine.
      "a fixed displacement gear"

    the unconscious transfer of an intense emotion from one object to another.
    "this phobia was linked with the displacement of fear of his father"

    the component of an electric field due to free separated charges, regardless of any polarizing effects.
    • the vector representing such a component.
    • the flux density of such an electric field.


Displacement and precarity

"La precariedad se ha convertido en un régimen, en un modo hegemónico de de ser gobernados y de gobernarnos a nosotros mismos"

Judith Butler (prefacion de Isabell Lorey, State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious, Verso, London 2015)


Displacement and nationality

"Mentre seguo lo svolgimento del conflitto tra indipendentisti catalani e unionisti spagnoli dall’altra parte del Mediterraneo, mi rendo conto di soffrire di un’incapacità a comprendere quello che gli uni e gli altri definiscono “nazione”. Non vedo la nazione, non la sento, non la capisco. Sono insensibile alle modalità affettive che suscita la patria. Patria, padre, patriarcato, ho ormai abdicato da queste cose. Non capisco a cosa si riferiscono gli uni e gli altri quando parlano della “loro storia”, della “loro lingua”, della “loro terra”. Spagna, Catalogna, sono nomi che non mi fanno vibrare. Non risuona nulla in me. Al contrario, ho sempre ascoltato la parola Spagna con diffidenza e paura."

Paul B. Preciado, Disforia Nazionale, “Internazionale”, 4 novembre 2017

"The “emigrant” is the name given to the migrant as the former member or citizen, and the “immigrant” as the would-be member or citizen. In both cases, a static place and membership are theorized first, and the migrant is the one who lacks both. Thus, more than any other political figure (citizen, foreigner, sovereign, etc.), the migrant is the one least defined by its being and place and more by its becoming and displacement: by its movement. If we want to develop a political theory of the migrant itself and not the migrant as a failed citizen, we need to reinterpret the migrant first and foremost according to its own defining feature: its movement."

Thomas Nail, The Figure of the Migrant, Stanford University Press, Sanford 2015. 


Displacement and the culture class

"Has a contradiction emerged between the declared politics of artists and their actual role in flows of global capital that course through biennials and art fairs? Can we take the broad commitment of so many artists to the Occupy movement as a signal of their desire to mobilize and redirect their energies back toward social justice?"

Martha Rosler, Culture Class, Sternberg Press, Berlin 2013


Displacement and the art sphere

"The most important and perhaps in the end the only strictly non­-negotiable rule of capitalist art is expressed in the notion of “artistic autonomy.” In this context autonomy means that art is different from “life” and that this categorical difference will be enforced by the art institutions (art schools, galleries and market, museums, critical and promotional magazines and publications, and so forth). In some ways, artists enjoy more freedoms of expression than do people in everyday life. “What counts as utopia, fantasy, and rebellion in the world of fact is allowed in art.” But these freedoms can be exercised only so long as the result is clearly marked as “art” and is not confused with “life.” The autonomy of art, then, is relative and not absolute. It includes conditions that amount to the enforcement of a social and political powerlessness. As Adorno would put it: “Neutralization is the social price of aesthetic autonomy.”

Gene Ray, "On the Conditions of Anti­Capitalist Art. Radical Cultural Practices and the Capitalist Art System", in Agata Stopinska, Anke Bartels, and Raj Kollmorgen (eds.), Revolutions: Reframed, Revisited, Revised, Peter Lang, New York 2007, pp. 239-251

"To return, the contemporary artist is the perfect dilettante: he or she who doesn’t know how to do anything, but who takes the credit for the potential to do everything, crossing over (or using a non-functional method) various disciplines, making specialists integrate and making them work in unusual ways, and using technologies in instrumental ways. The action terrain of this perfect dilettante isn’t proscribed to a certain territory or to a given space; instead it is defined by a vector component, by a movement between one space and another. His field of action—in effect more an action than a field—is that which I have defined as movement."

Cesare Pietroiusti, The Agent of Displacement, IIC Berlin, 2010


Displacement and the city

"In The Practice of Everyday Life (1980), De Certeau defines strategy as in instrument of those in power. Simply put, policymakers and managers design strategy for controlling social phenomena or running their companies, respectively.Things are put on paper in black-and-white or, with regard to the city, are cast in urban development plans. Ideally, the urban fabric is studied beforehand and the result are documented in reports. These reports then set the agenda for policy meetings which again produce written reports that in turn have an influence on recommendations, (urban) regulation and possibly legislation, which is then, in more recent years, followed by processes of monitoring. Just like Haussmann’s plans, a strategy’s goal is to define social intercourse in the long-term for a geographically clearly delineated area. Following a rational logic, places are given a permanent function via a “grid” that is super-imposed from the top down upon the urban multitude. However, the users of the city develop their own tactics to deal with these ready-made plans. In doing so, they bend the predesigned strategy to their own will. As opposed to strategies, tactics are short-term instance, a city tripper may deviate from the prescribed touristic tour to explore a run-down but intriguing dark alley. This adventurer’s voyeuristic curiosity leads him to other places in the city, places that the city government, tour operators and city marketeers would perhaps prefer not to be revealed. In the addition to the opposition of strategy and tactics, De Certeau posits a distinction between lieu [place] and espace [space]. Place then represents individuality, stability. In particular material of physical element such as a building, a road or a statue occupy a place and they can only be replaced with something else if the place is ceded or taken. To this French thinker, a place is therefore a well-defined and strictly delineated domain. Think, for example, of the boundaries of a nation-state, but also the walls around a city, or, again, the Eruv around a Jewish neighbourhood. Space, by contrast, represents movement, temporality and change. Literary scholar Korn Gedolf (1996) calls space the result of many simultaneous, sometimes contradictory operations. Sociologist Rudi Laermans (1996) adds that space is continuously created by utilizing places, by actively controlling it. Space include a verb, a process of continuous “spatialization”. In that process, places is made fluid, entering a state of permanent transmutation."

Pascal Gielen, “Performing the Common City. On the Crossroads of Art, Politics and Public Life”, in Sander Bax, Pascal Gielen, Bram Ieven (eds.), Interrupting the City. Artistic Constitutions of the Public Sphere, Valiz, Amsterdam, 2015, pp. 273-298.




Campobase's diary of the month of March Notes and ideas for a displaced research

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.
By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More Information (Spanish)