The (re)imagined self in Leora Farber’s series Dis-Location/Re-Location (2004-2007)
This research investigates how contemporary South African artist Leora Farber’s manipulated photographic series Dis-Location/Re-Location (2004-2007) visually articulates a simulacral settler-colonial narrative. More specifically, this study contends that Farber − in the dual role of creator and body-protagonist of the series − uses postcolonial discourse questionably to create an imagined postcolonial self based on her settler-colonial double. This study theoretically employs postcolonialism and Baudrillard’s conceptualisation of the simulacrum in order to illustrate and substantiate this contention. In the theoretical chapters of this thesis, I show, first, how Farber’s use of key postcolonial terms like otherness, hybridity and liminality differs from their paradigmatic use in postcolonial theory and, second, how Baudrillard’s theory of the simulacrum may be brought to bear on understanding the processes of signification at work in Dis-Location/Re-Location. This study does in no way aim to question the material "loss of the real" in Farber’s series Dis-Location/Re-Location, but rather aims to investigate the nature of the simulated real as a means to contribute to the untapped, critical, interpretative possibilities of the series and its three sub-narratives Aloerosa, Ties that Bind Her and A Room of Her Own. The imagined self in the series is fabricated out of three narratives of displacement as extrapolated from the experiences of three white Jewish women: Bertha Guttmann, Freda Kagan and Farber herself. Guttmann relocated from England to the then ZAR in 1885 for a (possibly) arranged marriage to Jewish entrepreneur, Sammy Marks. Farber’s Jewish immigrant mother, Kagan, arrived in the then Union of South Africa in 1935 with her family, after they escaped the rising anti-Semitic persecution in Latvia. While Farber enacts Guttmann’s life-world, in neo-Victorian fashion, throughout the series by recreating and counterfeiting a Victorian real, Kagan remains a shadowy presence serving mainly as Guttmann and Farber’s go-between. This allows Farber to frame her own sense of displacement as a white woman in post-apartheid South Africa, and in the changing "African metropolis of Johannesburg" in particular, in terms of Guttmann’s settler-colonial and Kagan’s Jewish diasporic identity. Farber hereby seems to suggest − rather problematically − that her own sense of displacement in post-apartheid South Africa can be compared to that experienced by Guttmann and Kagan. In the series, the central visual metaphor for displacement is the graft, which Farber deploys in both a botanical and medical-biological sense. My analysis of the imagery in the series shows how the unfolding process of grafting, as depicted in the series, can be read in terms of the metamorphosis of Farber’s (re)imagined self. I argue that this process can be understood in terms of Baudrillard’s orders of signification (from the ambivalent self, to the mutable self and finally to the simulated death of self), but also that the metamorphosis is problematically embedded in colonial understandings of the relationship between self and other. The colonial subject, in Farber’s depiction, confronts the other as "exoticIt is accepted widely that corporate social responsibility (CSR) has a dual purpose, namely to generate a strategic advantage for business and contribute to the sustainable development of society. It is argued that the communication function should contribute to this dual focus. However, it would seem that in research and practice, the focus of CSR communication is mainly on creating a strategic advantage for business. The purpose of the present study was to conceptualise an integrated CSR communication model that incorporates principles from a corporate as well as development communication perspective, guided by the mentioned dual purpose of CSR. This was done by firstly exploring the different theoretical fields and theories of corporate and development communication relevant to CSR communication, to identify and evaluate these principles. Thereafter these respective principles were utilised within two different CSR communication approaches: one from a corporate communication perspective (as creating a strategic advantage for the business) and one from a development communication perspective (as contributing to sustainable development). These principles informed the concepts and constructs that was used to conceptualise a proposed model for Integrated CSR communication. This model focused on the mutual purpose of sustainability with empowerment for both business and society as the outcome. The strategic, rapport and action processes were identified as the continual communication processes within the model. The reflective strategist, reflective facilitator and reflective participant were described as the responsible roles within those processes. The model also provided guidance on the identification of stakeholders within whom engagement will take place within these processes. The nature of communication within the engagement was identified and described as contributing to the outcome of empowerment towards sustainability. The mentioned model was evaluated empirically in qualitative research through semi-structured interviews with prominent communication academics to verify the theoretical foundation of the model. Thereafter, the model was adapted, based on their feedback and input. As CSR initiatives are predominantly initiated by business, the adapted model was evaluated through semi-structured interviews with senior communication practitioners responsible for CSR and CSR communication in various South African organisations. This was done to gain input on the practical relevance of the model. The data was analysed through qualitative content analysis. Based on the participants’ feedback and input, the model was revised anew. It was found that although most academics and practitioners perceived CSR as contributing to the sustainability of both business and society, CSR communication was found to benefit mainly the sustainability of business. After presenting the model to the participants all agreed on the necessity of such a model focussing on the mutual purpose of sustainability for both business and society. Feedback from the participants that contributed to this mutual purpose was included to refine the model. There was thus an overall agreement among the academics on the theoretical foundation of the model and the practitioners on the accuracy, necessity, and workability of the model in practice in the South African context and globally. All the participants did however raise their concerns about the term "CSR" within CSR communication. Based on the overall feedback, the CSR communication model was adjusted to the Sustainable-citizenship communication model., and this is visualised in the series by the violent implantation of so-called indigenous African signifiers such as aloe succulents or beads into the protagonist’s white skin. The graft, however, does not seem viable as it subsumes the white body. My critical analysis suggests that the (re)imagined protagonist, represented in a colonial-settler landscape, indicates a simulacral reality. The photographic series − as a simulacrum − becomes an endless liminal state as the protagonist ceremonially continues the grafting in an attempt to belong in the foreign. In contrast to Bhabha’s (1994) description of the liminal as an enunciating state, the liminal in Dis-Location/Re-Location becomes an oppressive, hyperreal space rooted in a continuous proclamation of (un)belonging. This simulacral reality, although informed by and articulated through postcolonial theory, perpetuates a colonial reality, rather than enabling a postcolonial narrative.
- Humanities