Contemporary Artists Responded To Issues Cultural Studies Essay

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The term globalisation is a geographical concept, extremely relevant not only with contemporary art, but a common phrase we associate today with culture, society and world politics. Within today's culture, globalisation is used to describe the decreasing importance of national boundaries, and a reduced importance of national governments. It is from this tendency that a number of processes have begun to accelerate in this contemporary world. The creation of a single global society, where culture and politics are shared experiences. The rise of communication and information technologies now link once isolated and distant places, and the development of transportation connections have the increasing ability to move masses across borders, to name just three.

Globalisation is the 'most important factor in current world politics' (Suter, 2006). With national boundaries eroding, the nation-state ending, and national governments becoming less relevant, organisations such as the UN and EU are replacing relationships between nation states and national governments. Relations that were formally international are increasingly becoming global. Anti globalisation demonstrators use the impact of trans nation corporations as the focal point for their arguments. However issues such as the environment, health, war and crime are also impacted by the effects of globalisation. When discussing globalisation, many issues related to the growth and expansion of the United States ideas and businesses are raised, however, Americanisation is not the only form of globalisation (Suter, 2006). This dissertation aims to explore other countries' impact on globalisation; the effect globalisation has on the people of these countries, as well as their views on globalisation by studying and understanding the art work that is produced. How have artists dealt with these issues, and how successfully have they done so?

This dissertation will examine the relationship between globalisation and place in relation to contemporary art. By focusing on, and discussing how contemporary artists have begun portraying their own ideas and experiences in relation to the expanding and changing term, place. The dissertation can then begin to identify the different ways of responding to globalisation and place as well as the success of the work produced. Robertson and McDaniel (2005) express the importance of understanding the term place before relating it to contemporary art. They describe a place as a location, that

... can be as large as Africa or as small as a closet. A place can be real or imagined... a somewhere where something might occur. Today a place can even be a nonplace, perhaps in cyberspace. Place is a function of both perception and cognition. (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005, pg.70)

Throughout this dissertation the term space also needs to be understood. "... The term space... refer(s) to the social and psychological attributes of a place." (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005, pg.71)

Non-places, placelessness and displacement are key areas to be explored within this dissertation. In relation to the issues raised above and their influence on contemporary art they will form three chapters of research


Much of the information we receive today can be described as placeless, the greatest example of this being the internet. By existing in no geographical location or physical place, the information occupies only a space. This dissertation investigates how contemporary artists have begun responding to this idea of placelessness, by creating work that also owns no place.


Displacement refers to the movement of people from the place they call 'home'. However this movement is not always voluntary, for reasons such as war and poverty for example. Throughout this dissertation and in this chapter exclusively, the term 'diaspora' will be used and examined, along with its impact on contemporary art. "Diaspora refers to the movement, involuntary or otherwise, of large bodies of people, their thoughts and ideas." (Malik and Janties, 1998, glossary)

Place and Non-place

A non-place is the opposite of what we would consider to be a place. It is an area that cannot be defined as historical, integrated or even concerned with cultural identity. The non-places, no matter where in the world they lie are pretty much identical, reflecting nothing, or very little of the locale in which they belong. Examples of non-places include airports, hotel chains, motorway service stations and shopping centres. They are designed and constructed with similar architecture, space and experience in mind, which gives the visitor/commuter no clue to their whereabouts, yet a firm sense of familiarity with their new surroundings (Auge, 1995).

Within each of these three chapters the dissertation with explore the different ways in which contemporary artists have responded to either placelessness, displacement or non-places, how this relates to globalisation, and how the different responses to the subjects relate to and differ from each other.


To begin this chapter it is essential to ensure that the term 'placelessness' is fully understood. Something that is deemed placeless occupies only space, rather than a place, a location or a 'three dimensional field of everyday experience' (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005, pg.73). This 'something' must therefore exist as a virtual space, with no geographical location, existing only in cyberspace. Cyberspace as defined ironically on the online dictionary Encarta is an

Imagined place where electronic data goes: the national realm in which electronic information exists or is exchanged [and a] virtual reality: the imagined world of virtual reality (Encarta in Wilson Smith, 2007, pg. 158).

A network of such placeless spaces currently exists on the internet. It is from within these spaces that information, and products which were once only physical, can now be obtained or downloaded from around the world, raising many issues regarding place and space. David Toop quotes, in response to the capability of being able to download music,

Where... does the music exist if it can be accessed only through the internet? Or in which space is it created if no physical space or conventional sound generating tools are used in its construction? (Toop in Robertson and McDaniel, 2005, pg.89)

With Globalisation fuelling the constant development of computer technologies and growth of the internet, photography in art has the opportunity to become far more complex. By using such technologies to occupy and create new spaces, globally or in cyberspace for example, photography is no longer as simple as taking a photograph and printing the image.

Martha Rosler gives a perfect example of this, and how globalisation has enabled photographs to be accessed all over the world in an article written by the artist entitled In Place of the Public, Observations of a Traveller. Within the article Rosler explores the connection between photography and globalisation, with more specific reference to computerisation. She uses Project Patrimoine 2001 as an example of how, with the aid of the internet, photographs of 'cultural and natural wonders' (Guy Debord, in Rosler, 1994, pg 13) can be preserved in their current condition and seen by everyone before 'they are further damaged by war or the environment'(New York Times in Rosler, 1994, pg 13).

This idea of digitally transmitting and sending images through cyberspace is not only being used to show photography to a global audience. Simon Faithfull used this kind of technology with drawings rather than photographs. From the 12th of January to the 4th of March 2001 Faithfull, along with two other artists, exhibited work in the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, entitled Temporary Accommodations (Whitechapel, 2001). He used the space not only as a gallery but as a workshop space, a space in which he could develop and build on over the few months of the exhibition. Rather than using the more traditional tools for drawing such as pencil and paper, Faithfull used a Palm Pilot and stylus to record ideas, plans and drawings, both before and during the exhibition (Whitechapel, 2001). Over the course of the exhibition the drawings were emailed back to the gallery 'through the virtual space of the internet' (Faithfull in Whitechapel, 2001), gradually filling the gallery space with his digital drawings (Whitechapel, 2001).

The internet intrigued me as a space. It is like an alias for the space that we are in. It is an unimaginable space into which people attempt to map across from the physical, usually with disastrous results, but sometimes with quite interesting disastrous results (Faithfull in Whitechapel, 2001)

As Faithfull describes above, the internet is such a vast space, impossible for us to imagine, yet one in which we are all familiar with and can use for our own benefit and personal needs. Faithfull uses the internet and cyberspace to transport his drawings digitally, however, as well as contemporary artists using technology to send their work through cyber space, some are also using it create their work within.

Craig Kalpakjian is an artist who explores the ideas of placeless spaces through his work. He responds to the concept of placelessness, and the issues raised by the idea, by creating computerised images of a room. The images appear to exist and belong within a geographical location but in fact do not, and actually only occupy virtual space. By challenging what we believe to be reality, and encouraging us to question where this work actually exists, the viewer becomes increasingly aware of 'cyberspace', along with its power to blur our distinction between reality and virtual reality.

Figure On first look, Kalpakjian's piece Hall (1999), makes us believe we are looking at a hallway that actually exists, perhaps built in some corporate building for example. However, after studying the image more it becomes unclear if any humanity has ever set foot in this isolated and sterilised environment. This is because Hall does not in fact exist as a place, or a hall that can function as it should, but exists only as a virtual space. Kalpakjian created the image, easily mistaken for a photographic one, using an architectural design programme (Oddy, 2000). The result being a space, so convincing of being a place, (one that has been manually put together with materials and tools) that we begin to question the boundaries between what we consider to be reality, and how we distinguish it from the virtual. The images begin to make us re-evaluate the differences between place and space. In his images, mainly the prints of virtually created spaces similar to Hall (1999), such as Lobby (1996) and Corridor (1997), Kalpakjian is making the viewer conscious of the fact the virtual world or cyberspace, and reality or the physical world, are not as clearly defined or as far apart as we may think they are (Griffin 2000). However, as well as images existing as both the physical (the image on the wall) and the virtual (the space it represents and was created in) Oddy, (2000) adds that technologies have made it a daily occurrence for us to no longer be simply travelling through a place, (e.g. down a street, in a shopping centre) without our image being recorded and transferred to somewhere within cyberspace, via CCTV cameras for example. Kalpakjian, Hall 1999.jpg

Moriko Mori takes a different approach to creating work that can be described as placeless. Growing up and living in Japan, Mori is "particularly interested in the circulation, exchange and process of globalisation taking place in popular culture." (King, 1998, pg.33) This interest has heightened her knowledge of modern technologies, and her awareness of how technology has the ability to shape the development of history (King, 1998). In one of her video installations Nirvana, Mori, using the latest technology available to her, created a three-dimensional film allowing the viewer to physically enter a virtual experience of time and space (King, 1998). She created a space specifically for the purpose of allowing the viewer to step into a virtual space, that although it may feel like one, reflects very little of an actual place in reality. Mori has created a space, open for us to enter, (like we would do with a place) that takes us from reality to the virtual, from place to placeless space.

In 2002 an exhibition was held in the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York named Out of Site. The show consisted of 15 artists, all illustrating the modern technological world in relation to architectural and fictional sites (Ellegood, 2002). The curator, Anne Ellegood, pieced together the show, with an aim to explore the following thesis:

Digital technologies are transforming our experience of space, blurring boundaries between interior and exterior, local and global, [focusing on] the reciprocal relationship between actual and virtual space. (Sanders, 2002, pg.182)

Artist Sven Pahlsson, one artist exhibiting in the show, using technology similar to that used by Mori, created a placeless space with a three-dimensional computer simulation video. In this animation Sprawlville or Life at the End of the Highway Ramp Pahlsson takes the viewer on a virtual journey through a suburban landscape. The moving images that we see are composed of Pahlsson's photographs documenting and collecting information from American suburbs. However, the final video images are far from similar to these photographs. The photographs were digitally manipulated and Pahlsson used them to create a fictitious representation, an altogether different landscape. Although initially created from a place, the video can only be described as placeless (Williams, 2002). Sweeping up and down over parking lots, housing estates and motorways, it is easy to forget that these familiar and recognisable scenes are computer generated using a digital modelling program (Ellegood, 2002).

Using computer programs to create virtual images or videos is not the only way artists have begun making 'placeless' art. The exhibition offered much more than just computer and digital technology created work. Artist Danielle Tegeder exhibited work in the more traditional medium of paint. Her paintings represent a fictional plan, a "cross-section of post-apocalyptic scenes of subterranean safe havens." (Sanders, 2002, pg.182) Tegeder's fictional worlds she creates however are 'bound to a canvas and the picture plane' (Tegeder, 2003, pg 44). Although they represent a placeless space, the images themselves exist as an object in reality, and therefore do own a place and occupy a space.

Similar to the computer generated images of Kalpakjian, and the three-dimensional video installations of Miro and Pahlsson, Tegeder's painting represents a virtual space, one that owns no place in reality and is therefore placeless. However, the computer generated work goes beyond simply existing only as a work of art. Being created on computer simulation programs and with the aid of the internet, Kalpakjian, Miro and Pahlsson's work must also exist somewhere in cyberspace, a space with no place.

Going beyond representations of virtual space, similar to that of Kalpakjian, Miro and Pahlsson, where the viewers only attachment to the work is by looking at it, Char Davies has created and described in her own words an 'immersive virtual space' (Davies, Rethinking VR in Wilson Smith, 2007, pg 160) in her project Osmose. The installation when shown publically is presented to the audience via two screens. One of the screens shows a shadow of a figure, while the second shows the journey this figure is taking through a virtual world, the world of Osmose. The figure or the immersant (Wilson Smith, 2007, pg 160) however, receives a very different experience than the viewing public. After being dressed in a 'stereoscopic 3-D head-mounted display and a motion-sensitive bodysuit with a breathing and balance sensor' (Wilson Smith, 2007, pg 160) the immersants' 'experience is solitary and all-consuming... the immersant has very little sensory access to the exterior world' (Wilson Smith, 2007, pg 160). Navigation and the paths taken through this world are mainly chosen by how the immersant is breathing. Sharp and short intakes of breath allows the immersant to rise 'up to the branches of the trees and above, into the sky, where she finds excerpts from writings that inspired the project' (Wilson Smith, 2007, pg 161). Softer and longer breaths on the other hand 'allows the immersant to float place' (Wilson Smith, 2007, pg161). Davies, in Osmose, by using the latest technology of the time has created a piece of virtual reality, reflecting the possibilities of the constantly evolving technological world (Wilson Smith, 2007). The Osmose world lies very much in cyberspace. Although it can be walked through, controlled by human senses and isolate the immersant from reality, it is important to remember that the experience is still a virtual one, and owns no actual place in reality. Similarly to Kalpakjian, Miro and Pahlsson's representations of virtual space, Osmose also is a space with no place, and another example of placeless art.

However the artist chooses to represent and respond to the issues within placelessness, it is clear that all the artists discussed are interested in the technologies available and possible ways of living in the future. The exciting, unimaginable and almost alien placeless and virtual worlds they create or represent now, may one day be the norm.


Much of the world's population today do not live in the areas where they were born. Many people change where they live many times during their lives. Some move to a new town or city, while others may even venture overseas. For most this is a welcome move, a work commitment or a fulfilment of their dream to explore and escape their seemingly mundane lives (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005). However, not all movement away from home is voluntary. Many people are forced to relocate, often to other countries, "due to war, disease, poverty or persecution, often including large numbers of people." (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005, pg.95)

This involuntary displacement may cause these people to find they have to cope with a very different political world, as well as psychological issues from moving such a distance away from home. (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005) From experiencing this displacement first hand, or just understanding the effects, contemporary artists have begun responding too and reflecting on these recent changes.

Many contemporary artists who have been involved in some form of displacement have created work in response of a longing for home. Involuntary displacement generally means those moved across borders will never go back to the place they call home. However, being forced into a different country or culture, more often than not both, is not the only way in which someone may become displaced against their will. A perfect example of this is the demolition of District Six (once a community in Cape Town) between 1966 and 1981. After District Six had been demolished to clear the space for a 'more structured and regimented space, divided along racial lines' (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005, pg 71), the community was lost. Through the loss of the place she knew once as her home, Nadja Daehnke created Shop/site/shrine to highlight the difference between what was and what is. Created on a piece of glass, Daehnke imprinted a map of the landscape she had grown up in, 'the former thriving locale' (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005, pg 71). When looking through the glass in front of the new landscape the viewer becomes aware of what was lost after the demolition (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005). Daehnke portrays in her work how changes in our local landscapes or movement away from it can reveal the value we put on the place we call home. Her work reflects the effects displacement has on individuals as well as communities, and shows how art can be made to help capture and keep the memory of home alive.

In relation to displacement the term diaspora, as well as the artists who create work given the label of being diaspora art need to be discussed. Although diaspora art can take on many different styles, and address any number of related issues, (from the traumatic event of a forced dislocation, to the longing to remember and capture the place once called home) it is understood that diaspora art will most defiantly reflect and "depict the act or the consequences of either forced or involuntary dispersal." (Lemke, 2008, pg123)

Jean-Michel Basquiat was an African American artist and in his painting History of Black People (1983), he incorporates many representations and visual signs of the African diaspora (Lemke, 2008). The painting is made up of three parts which reflects three stages in African peoples' history. The first panel is occupied mainly by two tribal masks, a reflection of roots, and the ancient past before any forced dislocation. The third panel, a total contrast to the first reflects the Africans' lives once they arrived in America. The main image in this panel is a black figure, recognisable as a person from the white facial features. Also in white paint, across the figure the word slave is written, symbolic of their enslavement in America. The second panel is the link between past and present, a boat transporting those forced to leave to their new lives as slaves in America. Placed in the centre of the canvas, Basquiat is showing us the means by which the African people came from their roots (panel one) to America (panel three) (Lemke, 2008). According to Maïca Sanconie

Basquiat wanted to bring out on the surface of his canvas the missing narrative that would complete the memory of diaspora. We are left with a sense of unfulfillment and irreparable loss, but this confrontation questions our own sense of reality (Sanconie, 2008).

Through History of Black People Basquiat is presenting the viewer with the reality of diaspora that may have become lost throughout history. His painting narrates the transatlantic journey by linking the past and the present with himself as a person of Africa and of America. The History of Black People depicts the three main focus points an artist may use if their work is to be seen as diaspora art. These are 'roots'; the origins of the artist, 'routes'; the physical movement to an unknown location, and 'riot'; the conflicts that may occur once arrived (Lemke, 2008).

Hew Locke is another artist who has represented the movement of peoples across borders. Although born in Edinburgh, Locke lived most of his life in Guyana before returning to the United Kingdom in the 1980s. (Locke, 2009) Locke sculptures begin life as a cardboard frame. After a strong layer of papier-mâché has hardened, Locke can begin painting and decorating the sculpture. His decision to paint the sculptures has lead Locke to be involved in many debates with critics, many describing the act as ruining the sculpture. However, Locke feels the application of painterly colour is the key to his work becoming finished and transporting him mentally, for a short period time, back home (Locke, 1995).

... as soon as I begin to apply paint to a piece of work, I start its link back to Guyana. It is usually at this stage that I look at a piece and get powerful and clear visions of the past... these days a piece can often feel unfinished without one of these flashbacks (Locke, 1995, pg 41).

For Locke the creation of his work symbolises and reconnects him with his past, but his work may also have a similar effect on others who have been displaced. In his sculpture Ark (1992-4) Locke raises the concept of diaspora by not only looking at the movement of people, but also what these people brought with them in terms of values, ideas and thoughts. Ark is a seven metre sculpture combining many materials, including wood, cardboard and steel, along with found objects and decorative, bright colours (Nicodemus, 1999 in Locke, 2005). The boat sculpture, occupying a large area of any room exhibited in, symbolises migration, the vast number of people affected, along with the ideas and beliefs they brought with them. The encrusted surface of the boat and the vivid colours make the viewer consider the true value the boats brought with them when transporting slaves (Robertson and McDaniel, 1995).

Figure 2The exploration into the value of national boundaries is one angle artist Yukinori Yanagi has taken in response to displacement. His installation piece, Pacific-The Ant Farm Project (1996), consists of 49 plastic boxes, each containing a national flag made from coloured sand. All the boxes are connected with tubes. Thousands of ants are placed into this grid-like installation, and as they travel from box to box the sand becomes mixed, the flags become less and less recognisable, and the symbols of nationality are eroded (Roberson and McDaniel, 1995). The movement of the ants represent the 'suggestive... patterns of global migration' (Tate Online, 2006) and makes us questions the significance of the flag, and what it ultimately represents. Yanagi himself quotes, 'I question the concept of a nation. A nation, its border and national flag, has become imaginary fiction' (Tate Online, 2006). However, some argue that Yanagi's ant farm installations fail to symbolise anything other than the flag itself (Fouser, 1998). Yanagi, Pacific 1996.jpg

Similarly to Basquiat and Locke, Yanagi's Pacific responds to the movement of large amounts of people across borders. However, rather than reflecting the effect this may have on the displaced people involved, Yanagi has approached the issue of displacement by representing his concerns in relation to the effect this movement of people has on a nation and its boundaries.

The term displacement presents contemporary artists with many issues to respond to. Within the artists discussed, the issues of displacement that have been dealt with are; displacement from the artists roots, the movement of masses across borders and the effect this has on the definition of a border. All these issues are current in today's world due to the effects of globalisation.

Place and Non-place

Places and non-places, like their names suggest are rather opposite terms. When defining what exactly a place is it is understood that a place is 'relational, historical and concerned with identity' (Auge, 1995, pg.77). A space that cannot be defined as a place must therefore be a non-place (Auge, 1995).

The word place and how we use it in today's language is a broad term covering numerous possibilities for contemporary artists to explore. At its simplest level a place can be described as a location, with no limits on size. However no place remains the same forever. No matter the speed, change is inevitable. This would lead us to describe a place as an event and a development over time, as well as a location. Places can also go beyond reality, existing in our imaginations and in cyberspace, as well as holding literal and symbolic value (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005). These values hold the power to cause conflicts 'over the ownership, use, development and naming of places' (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005, pg71).

There are many ways of representing places in a piece of art, from depicting a landscape scene to creating images of places from memories and from the imagination (Robertson and McDaniel). However, two-dimensional forms of representation are not the only way contemporary artists have begun to capture an aspect of place. Rachel Whiteread for example, shows us that the representation of a place does not have to be as obvious as simply capturing it on film or painting it. Her work creates an object (a solid space) from the space that once occupied a place. Whiteread's sculptures can be most simply described as casts of negative space (that which surrounds the object or place). House (1993), was the cast of an entire Victorian terrace house, created by pouring concrete into the house before removing the outside of the house entirely (Graham-Dixon, 1993). The process of creating House removed any function and purpose the building once had. However in doing so the cast became a representation and memorial for what once was a space, used and lived in. Although it is the space of the house we now see, it is still clear what the space was originally contained within. Details such as windows, doors and their handles can still be seen, just in reverse, reminding us of the identity, lives and memories places can hold.

In contrast to this awareness of place, globalisation has brought with it a rise and new found awareness of the non-place, 'a space which cannot be defined as relational or historical or concerned with identity' (Auge, 1995, pg 77-78).

Irena Lagator uses her art work to draw our attention to the supermarket as a non-place. She uses these non-places to obtain the materials needed for her work, a collection called the The Limited Responsibility Society (ORTung, 2009). With receipts from her locale supermarkets Lagator winds them tightly and twists in order to create 'towers of different heights' (ORTung, 2009). The series of work documented real people's behaviours and purchases within the environment of the supermarket, and looks at the values of these places within today's culture. However, supermarkets are not the only places to be deemed non-places and they are not the only focus for contemporary artists studying the non-place.

As discussed in the previous chapter, many people at any one moment are travelling, in transit from one place to another. A vast amount of these travellers include tourists and international business men and women (Robertson and McDaniel, 2005). These people will inevitably spent large amounts of their time in 'non-places'. From the moment they leave the local airport, to when they arrive in the foreign airport, and continuing throughout their stay in a chain hotel and using the public means of transport, these travellers are contained within the nondescript, bland environments of such non-places (Auge, 1995).

Figure 3Martha Rosler, 'an artist, writer and frequent flyer' (Holding, 1998) shows her interest in airports in her collection of airport photographs and in her book In the Place of the Public: Airport Series. The photographs were taken at many different airports around the world and over a number of years. In an article written by herself, Rosler explains how she is 'interested in the ephemera and experience of this form of travel (flying), so different in time, space and (self-) organisation from train and particularly long distance bus travel' (Rosler, 1994, pg 8). Her interpretations and views on the well thought out movement of people around the airport, signs and directions, queuing lines, and in particular people's perceptions of space and place (Rosler, 1994) are evident in her photography and writing. Rosler's photographs draw the viewers attention to the sense of isolation, paranoia and insignificance one might feel whilst being directed and managed around the airport. Rosler, In the place of the pulic.jpg

De Botton, a writer, commissioned to spend a week living at Heathrow airport, and in doing so becoming their 'first ever writer-in-residence' (De Botton, 2009, pg 10), documents his experiences and encounters in A Week at the Airport, A Heathrow Diary. Here he reveals feelings and behaviours of people in the airport similar to those Rosler describes. In this book De Botton describes details of a man excited by the prospect of his family holiday after months of thinking, anticipating and imagining the week they would shortly be spending together. On arriving at the airport and talking with De Bottom, De Botton describes how the man had

... omitted to recall the existence of the check-in line or to think of just how many people can be fitted into an Airbus A320. He had not focused on how long four hours can seem nor had he considered the improbability of all the members of the family achieving physical and psychological satisfaction at approximately the same time (De Botton, 2009, pg 38).

It would seem that for many of us, the airport does not factor into our planning or increase the build up of anticipation before going on holiday. However, when sat in the airport waiting to check in we soon realise it has in fact a large role to play in the success, experience and the pleasure we get from our holiday.

In contrast to Rosler, Holding argues that describing the experience of airports, or any form of non-place, as alienating and nondescript 'fail(s) to take into account the element of pleasure (for example the anticipation of the journey)' (Holding, 1998, pg 62). Holding goes on to explain any isolation encountered by passengers 'should not be confused with feeling of despair or alienation but, rather provides a rare sense of welcome and a highly valued anonymity' (Holding, 1998, pg 62).

However, Rosler's photographs show for her isolation, a feeling that she interprets as alienation and sense of insignificance within a large space and crowds of people (Rosler, 1994). However the feeling of isolation is interpreted, as alienation or pleasure, it seems widely understood that isolation is common within airports and other non-places.

Photographing airports however is not the only way contemporary artists represent the thoughts provoked by spending time in non-places. Uta Barth exhibited a selection of photographs in the Claustrophobia exhibition held in the Ikon Gallery (Birmingham). Her photographs were representing non-places, in particular hotel rooms and their similarity to the place we call home (Claire Doherty, 1998). Soo Jin Kim, an artist, writer and teacher in Los Angeles (Claire Doherty, 1998), in response to Barth's exhibited photographs describes to us the notion of the non-place and how we may experience it. She describes in detail the set up of the hotel room, and how they 'appear across different countries bringing with them an uncanny sense of familiarity while hardly showing a trace of local specificity or exoticism' (Soo Jim Kim, 1998). Barth's photographs reflect the anonymous yet familiar interiors we find ourselves in as a traveller, and draw our attention to the connections that can be made between such places, in particular hotel rooms, and our own homes.

In contrast to Rosler's airport photographs, Barth is not representing a sense of isolation experienced in non-places, but is in fact drawing our attention to the ease in which we feel at home in these places. Although the location is new to us and unknown we do not feel uncomfortable or in unfamiliar surroundings.

It is clear that the arguments surrounding non-places lie very much in the way they are experienced by the public users of such places. Both Rosler and Barth seem to accept the function and roll they play throughout the modern world, but use their art in different ways to convey their personal feelings towards them.


Globalisation has prompted many contemporary artists to respond to place and placelessness within their work. They have done this by representing and questioning many different issues within this politically current subject. This dissertation aimed to examine relationships between globalisation and place, and focus on how contemporary artists have begun responding to, and portraying their own ideas and experiences in relation to globalisation. Within the term globalisation there are numerous issues that may have a direct influence on the work of contemporary artists; however there were just three main areas of interest in relation to the term place which were investigated. These were placelessness, displacement and place and non-place.

Placeless art has become a very significant area within contemporary art due to the development of computer and information technologies. It is clear that contemporary artists have only been able to begin to make art deemed as placeless because of the technologies available to them. Art that represents a placeless world or that uses a placeless space to be created in, are the two main ways in which this dissertation found contemporary artists have begun to explore the new possibilities globalisation has presented them with.

Those who experience being up rooted from home and displaced, either to another country or simply just away from the place they know as home as a result of war or poverty, may begin to represent the feelings and consequences of diaspora through art. The artists focused on in this chapter have all had experience of displacement; ranging from the loss of home through demolition, to the artists family having to leave their roots for a new life in another nation. In relation to Basquiat, Daehnke and Locke in particular, it seems the effect of being displaced, no matter on what scale, leads to their need to represent home, as home is the place where true identity lies.

The world today involves many of us spending a considerably large amount of time in non-places. However, people's reactions and feelings towards these places seem to lie very much on two levels. Some, like Rosler, interpret the isolation felt in non-places to be alienating and prompt a sense of insignificance. However, some, including Holding and Barth, understand the experience of non-places to be one of pleasure, anonymity and familiarity.

The artworks examined in this dissertation do not simply make statements for or against globalisation. They go beyond this by focusing on the changes globalisation may have brought to different people, including themselves, and by allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusions regarding the political arguments surrounding the subject. Without the effects of, or the changes globalisation has brought, none of the artists looked at would have a reason to create the work they have, and some would not even have the resources to make it.

All the artists within the dissertation have responded to issues within the concepts of place and placelessness but in very different ways, however, they have all begun to make us question the effects and consequences of globalisation and take a closer look at the world we live in today.