We live in a world where people are more frequently and increasingly displaced, whether by choice or by force. Through voluntary migrations or forced displacements, we are called, summoned, and tasked with traveling to any number of places and distances to produce, speak, and be present in distant parts of the world. With increasing frequency we are compelled by work, opportunity, or circumstance to uproot our lives from a specific local culture and place. Because of this displacement, our spiritual legacies, human histories, memories, and ultimately our sense of belonging becomes endangered. My personal experience of growing up overseas, as an outsider, in a foreign culture motivates me to consider the role of place in the formation of one’s identity. My personal inquiry, research, and art practice is centered around gaining an understanding of these terms (place, landscape, and origin), as well as observing practices of contemporary artists whose work discuss connections between cultural identity and place.
We are experiencing what anthropologist Marc Augé describes as ‘supermodernity.’ It is an era of globalization, the growth of our time spent in homogenized spaces of transition (non-places), and the excess of space and information. These circumstances point us to the end of a type of geography and cultural landscape, as we previously understood it, contributing to the waning of our abilities to locate ourselves. Consequently, a sense of place remains remote to us; we are always never at home.
As supermoderns, what is the antidote for the geographical component of our psychological need to belong somewhere, our anthropological displacement? As we continue to behave and embrace nomadic behaviors and practices, what implications does this have on local communal life? In an increasingly globalized and multi-centered society, how do communities and individuals recover a sense of place?
This paper seeks to explore, acknowledge, and identify the dilemma of ‘place’ for supermodern people in contemporary society. I examine the views of our multiple senses of place through critical lenses of Lucy Lippard and Mi Won Kwon, and weave the concepts of supermodernity of anthropologist Marc Augé. I investigate qualities of the supermodern landscape and it’s relationship and implications on the human condition’s existential homelessness––supermodern wilderness––a condition exclusive to our increasingly nomadic, multi-centered society. As diverse, multicultural, and international communities continue to grow and expand, place is a concept that I will argue needs to be reexamined and reinvigorated. As a part of my focus I will recall my own experience of forming my own identity through living between two cultures. I will examine characteristics of contemporary displacement as it relates to finding a sense of place, and I will share and explore the work of several contemporary Korean artists, including my own work, as it provides visual commentary on ways others negotiate and address these particular of issues of displacement.