This is a graphic essay, my first attempt at illustrating a series of thoughts and questions…
It seems ironic to think about diversity while bracketed by one’s own mind, body and imagination… Yet, there is always another side to the implausible…
You could say, I’m suggesting that we are all sort of spaced out into the world.
My ability to think and act is conditioned on diversity and plurality. I am born into a world of people. This diversity enables me to act and think.
Yet, to act involves me putting diversity at risk. Sometimes I, or a group I am part of, narrow plurality in order to act coherently, to attempt some kind of transformation or change.
When we fight for social justice and equality, we narrow diversity to focus in a particular moment on a particular cause within a diversity of causes. We highlight a problem within diversity, we fight against a specific privilege or position, a specific set of values or bureaucratic practices. This is also the point where we can sometimes forget we are also always caring for and fighting for plurality.
I appreciate diversity not simply so that I can protect my ability to act, think, appear and cohere. Rather I appreciate and am mindful that my ability to think and act is often made possible at the very moment diversity is at risk.
It is important and interesting to think about how we might accept responsibility for that risk, individually and collectively, as we work to affect change.
These thoughts are based on a connection I see between various insights by Édouard Glissant and Hannah Arendt. Two quotes that have inspired me are:
“Thinking thought usually amounts to withdrawing into a dimensionless place in which the idea of thought alone persists. But thought in reality spaces itself out into the world. It informs the imaginary of peoples, their varied poetics, which it then transforms, meaning, in them its risk becomes realized.” – Édouard Glissant
Not man but men inhabit this planet. Plurality is the law of the earth.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.
I started this essay while on the International Residency Programme at RM Gallery in Auckland in early 2014. I really appreciate the opportunity the residency gave me to create new work, to think and meet some great people. The character of the Hooded Lantern was directly inspired by the poetry of Bernadette Hall.