Donald Galvin and Devoration of Eurocentric Boundaries: Feeding on the Brains of the Coloniser

April 1, 2021

 Donald Galvin, installation view, by Joshua Clague, 2019.

Donald Galvin (resin, silicon, walnuts, stereo speakers, sound)

Inspired by the Anthropophagi movement, my interest shifted toward the ‘body’ as digestible, excretable material. Having previously lost my Grandad, I appropriated a voicemail he left me along with symbolic reminders of him to ‘digest’ him and ‘excrete’ out a remix.

Donald Galvin by Joshua Clague, 2019.

Donald Galvin by Joshua Clague, 2019.

 

 

Devoration of Eurocentric Boundaries: Feeding on the Brains of the Coloniser

Thinking about Eurocentric Modernity, we see how it has come to be defined by the attitude adopted by those who claim they are within it. Attempting the recapturing of the ephemeral, fleeting essence, not beyond the present moment “but within it”.[1] Modernity is always reaching out, chasing and striving for the graspable moment lingering in front of it. Progressing forwards, whether through the A vant-garde or colonial expansion, subsuming the pre-modern in its path, throwing away the past in the name of the future. Through this modern behaviour, a linear narrative of aesthetic innovation was constructed, “Eurocentric history sees Europe, alone and unaided, as the motor, … for progressive historical change, including progressive change in the arts”.[2] As a major colonial power, Europe declares its own modernity as the one and only legitimate culture thus defining the path to aesthetic innovation as linear, binary, and having one narrative.[3] The binary of progress, intrinsic to Modernity, automatically defines that which is not progressing forwards as regressive and subaltern. As a result, Europe grants itself the privilege of being at the forefront of modernity and places the ‘rest of the world’ in an inferior, infantilised and surpassed position.[4] This binary is ignorant. Europe is able to consume the ‘primitive’ aesthetics of colonised cultures and claim them as their own, defining “colonised people as body rather than mind… a source of raw material rather than of mental activity”.[5] This is reflected by the export of such raw material from colonial Brazil’s agricultural resources like sugar, wood and coffee that still sustain to this day. Colonised people like indigenous Brazilians became material for Europe to use. The ‘irrational’ body of the ‘rational’ European mind. The indigenous Brazilian culture becomes infantilised by this corporeal dichotomy, linearized as “evoking an earlier stage of individual human or cultural development”[6] which Shohat and Stam suggests results in an artificial divide that is built between Europe and non-western cultures.[7] Brazilian Modernism comes to disrupt these boundaries, expanding beyond them, to step outside of Eurocentric modernity. Brazilian modernists chose to embrace the irrational, primitive and carnal that had been used to define indigenous culture in order to deconstruct European post-colonial cultural domination.

Devoration of Eurocentric Boundaries: Feeding on the Brains of the Coloniser

 

[1] Michel Foucault. What is Enlightenment? 1984. In The Foucault Reader: An Introduction to Foucaults Thought, edited by Paul Rainbow. (London and New York: Penguin Books, 1984). 39

[2] Ella Shohat and Robert Stam. Narrativising Visual Culture: Towards a Polycentric Aesthetics. (London and New York:              Routledge, 1998). 27

[3] Shohat and Stam. Narrativising Visual Culture. 27

[4] Shohat and Stam. Narrativising Visual Culture. 28

[5] Shohat and Stam. Narrativising Visual Culture. 28

[6] Shohat and Stam. Narrativising Visual Culture. 28

[7] Shohat and Stam. Narrativising Visual Culture. 28

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