Anxiety of difference : explorations of belonging or (N)either here (N)or the other

Aleahmad, Seyyed Sadegh (2020) Anxiety of difference : explorations of belonging or (N)either here (N)or the other. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


As a young Iranian-born artist living in the UK, my research investigates the possibilities of bridging through elements taken from the cultural and ethical dichotomies that exist betweentheMuslim-dominatedMiddle Eastand the secular West. Despite having settled in the UK for 13 years, I do not regard my diasporic identity as a biproduct of my Islamic upbringing in the framework of British contemporary culture. Instead, I understand my identity as an ongoing site of tension between post-revolutionary Iranian Shiite tradition of Islamand contemporary Western principles. This thesis is concerned with research methods that use contemporary principles of performance practice to examine the construction of my diasporic identity in relation to both spectator perception and my own past.My practice examines, through performance art, singing, moving image and poetry, the possibilities of de-territorialising various Islamic disciplines, detaching them from their personal, religious and socio-political connotations in order to emphasise positive values they might offer. It investigates how these discourses can be integratedwith the ethics and aesthetics of Western contemporary artmaking that I as a migrant have acquired by living in diaspora. My methodologies of research postulates Jihad as Ready-made. This unique fusionis an assemblage of process-based, transgressive, playful and interactional methodsof resistancethat disrupts established relationships between the signifiers and signified. Jihad as Ready-madehas provided me with an effective means to examine the cross-over between the domains of artmaking and my everyday life activities. Through varioustransgressive and playfulstrategies,my practicegenerates situations where my actions challenge a variety of power-relations that exist in the site of artistic performance.Exploring Jihad as Ready-madeexpresses my existentially unfixed status as an uprooted individual who has agency to hover and create bridges between the dichotomies of the Muslim oriented Middle Eastern culture that isinherited inme and the acquired Western modernist/postmodernist culture that I can critically operate within. Jihad as Ready-madeallowsme to arrive at new understanding of Islamic diasporic identityandinvestigatethe intersection between Islamic orthodox doctrines and post-colonial and transnational ethics. By making these findings accessible to spectators from a wide range of culturalbackgrounds, my research tackles the climate of paranoia and propaganda against Islamic identity that has dominated the West.These endeavours have only been possible via my critical scrutiny of subject-mattersand traumatic memories that signify my existential status as a Muslim devotee or an Abd-Allah.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page