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In the brief and illuminating book La Comunidad Ilusoria (2012), devoted to exploring the concept of community in times of globalization of economies, migratory fluxes, and the liquefying of social life, French anthropologist Marc Augé proposes a simple exercise. Instead of offering a conclusive definition, he asks the reader to recall a moment from their childhood when he/she had been invited to be part of a community––whatever a community means to them. Recall the moment where as an individual one is invited to “franquear y también construir fronteras” [cross and build borders] (2012, p. 20);
these borders are subtle, as one would say of a perfume, which is said to be subtle because it diffuses beyond its point of origin, or of an idea, which is subtle because it keeps resonating and provoking even after one believes its immediate sense has been grasped. (Augé, translated by author, 2012, pp. 20-21)
While a border may delineate cultural diversity, economic disparity, generational gaps, or even the distinct legal status of individuals, subtle refers to the possibility of crossing it. It refers too to the experience of the self, as a point of departure, engaging with the possibility of crossing boundaries from what is known to what is not yet known, and of an emerging self, which is the material evidence of learning.
Inspired by this mode of approaching the subject matter––not asking what is it, rather when there has been community––and guided by Maxine Greene’s premise that aesthetic encounters endow us with opportunities of breaking through the sense of a petrified reality (1984), this article explores four artists’ narratives as hinges to start thinking, wondering, and experiencing things, the self, and our being together otherwise.
Link to the full article HERE