Patrícia Sousa: Elsewhere, There and Back Again / Notes on Travel Performances, Reception, and Imagination

Mentor: Alena Alexandrova

Independent reviewer: Ansuya Blom

Arnhem, June 2011


This thesis investigates the processes through which places are imagined and performed.
Which propositions ground our relations to the capitalized worldviews supported by travel practices, at a time when the overflow of imagery keeps on producing superficial landscapes? How do these ‘worldviews’ affect different subjectivities and how can it be subject to change without embarking on a search for additional meaning? How can a disruption to this movement be appropriated and enrich artistic practices? Possible answers to these questions emerge, in the first chapter, from an approach to the visual realm of the late nineteenth century and the position of the observer towards the spectacular image. This analysis sees itself extended in the second chapter, into the scope of the tourist and the performances of staged realities and the lure of artificiality. Tourism appears in the context of this research as a metaphor for how 'image‐world' is perceived and performed through the consumption of its representations. What happens when these dream‐images are destabilized? I propose that the awareness of these sort of 'disrupted' images can eventually contribute to an interruption in the flow of meaning construction, thus offering the possibilities of relating not just to what we 'see', but to how we can consciously and personally affect what we see.


This thesis has a beautiful title, which is reflected throughout the paper.
This paper offers a critical perspective on the notion of tourism for nearly any reader as many of us like to think
we're not.
I have some remarks though:
In my view the emphasis was maybe to heavy on the analysis of the imagined place and how the tourist is trapped within this field of longing. At times the transition from one analysis to another perspective of contemplation was a bit sudden. The use of the word 'real' was not explicated, and it has many meanings. In my view it was not made clear enough what her view on this was. A trip, travel, can be an alienating experience. The notion of the 'real' as something which one cannot convey and which therefore is able to evoke alienation, could have shed light on this experience. The meaning of the word 'scopic' came late in the paper. As a result the language used in this thesis at times felt a bit 'theoretically' proper and a bit 'wordy'.
However, the whole paper came to life when the link with Baudrillard's experience of the desert was related to the two artists mentioned in this paper. I would argue that Dominique Gonzalez's work is about being in a place (the city as desert) and as a work made by someone who knows a place but still feels an outsider. However Allen Sekula's work seems the perfect example for the ideas put forward here. His works undermine the idea of the comfortable tourist and the dryness of his view seriously disrupts the idyll put to many of us.
I also feel this paper is well researched, and the ideas around the notion of the destabilised and fragmented image is well constructed. A.B.

Ansuya Blom has been working as an artist since '77. Her drawings and films focus mainly on the individual in relation to the internal and external world. She holds an MA in Psychoanalysis from Middlesex University, London, UK.