In “Expanded Disco,” Britain has been fractured by ideological differences leaving cities resembling the surface of the moon and a proliferating network of tunnels to separate newly forming factions. Tunnel bureaucrats have been elevated to absolute power so long as the conflict continues. A Commander must dismantle the bureaucrats’ “conflict is freedom” ideology in order to be reunited with his family.
“The contemplation of things as they are without error, confusion, substitution, or imposture is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of inventions.” – Francis Bacon, 1605. (Dorothea Lange pinned a printout of these words on her darkroom door in 1933.) This is Hong Kong just before the protests, before people gathered in the streets to protest curtailment of their human rights. Faces in the street show regret, innocence, aggravation, anger, fitness, anonymity, acceptance, contemplation, joy, isolation — as if everyone were pausing with deep glances with the knowledge the life they lead might end soon, ennobling an idea they no longer take for granted, i.e., their own freedom.
The following inventory project is intertwined with the pain of restricted freedom of movement in this current health crisis period. From this grounded place, a longing for intimate places outside the confines of the home arises. Each of these images is part of an inventory count of moments that were taken for granted and are no longer so.
What experiences shape our life trajectories and sense of self? What roles do family heritage, state formation, and linguistic and cultural barriers have in creating a person? Are we just byproducts of events and nature, both outside our control? The following personal essay focuses on the author’s background as a refugee from the former Yugoslavia and makes the case for why we should think of the ‘refugee experience’ as a distinct category from the larger ‘immigrant experience.’ The author argues that because refugees are forcibly displaced from their home countries, they have a unique relationship both to the places from which they had to leave as well as the places in which they ultimately end up.