The Impact of Mobilities on Visual Arts in the Slovenian Diaspora in Argentina
The article addresses the impact of experiences of mobilities on visual arts in the Slovenian diaspora in Argentina. It aims to explore the question of how artistic creativity is related to individual and collective experiences of migration, life in diaspora and return mobilities. It approaches art as processual, relational and embedded in broader social, political and cultural contexts. Hence, such an analysis facilitates not only an understanding of individual experiences and worldviews, but also of the broader conceptualisation of art within particular socio-historical contexts. It explores how artists in diaspora imagine, express and constitute their relations with the homeland and their understanding of the past. By juxtaposing their art production with their life histories and trajectories as well as broader socio-historical contexts, the article explores intersections and correspondences between mobility and visual art, and raises the question of how diasporic sociality influences artists and their works as well as how artworks in turn create sociality.
KEY WORDS: Slovenian diaspora, Argentina, visual art, mobility, anthropology of art
This article focused on the theoretically underappreciated connection between art and mobility using the example of the Slovenian diaspora in Argentina in order to show connections between art, or creativity, and various mobilities. It addressed the question of how social memories, imaginaries of home and relations with a distant homeland are imagined, explored, (re)created and expressed in art. Many Slovenian artists have “returned” to Slovenia at least for visits, or to hold exhibitions, and some have even migrated there. Some of the themes that were important among certain artists addressed issues of exile, return and living between two homelands. In diaspora, the home(land) is constituted as an essential spatial referent: it is not merely a place of origin, but is constituted as a meaningful distant place that belongs to another time (Repič 2016). Return mobilities – migration, visits, roots tourism and other forms of travel between Argentina and Slovenia that are at least on a certain level understood as returning home (cf. King, Christou 2011; Basu 2004, see also criticism of the concept of return migration in Čapo 2010) – engender the re-creation and redefinition of relations with the homeland. Mobilities – such as exile, return or travel due to international exhibitions – constitute varied influences on artists’ lives, careers and artworks. Cecilija Grbec and Andreja Dolinar for example, both born in Argentina, express ambivalence in their search for roots. Marjan Grum has also connected art to mobilities – on the one hand exile and on the other hand return and the internationalisation of his career. Several younger artists acknowledge the rich history of art and cultural production in the diaspora, but tend to distance themselves from the perceived social constraints and expectations. Their education, styles and themes all differ and are dependent upon various social contexts and their choices. Nevertheless, we can observe that in different contexts of mobilities, art is a means of imagining, exploring, expressing and creating social relations and relations with distant places and different times. Artworks manifest the re-creation of these relations.Anthropological analysis of art can present different perspectives than art history and various other disciplines. There is no single and simple answer to the question of what art can tell us about migration and life in diaspora, as there are many layers of socio-historical influences and individual reflections to consider in art and cultural production. In the case of Slovenian artists in Argentina we can see that even though artworks are authored and individually produced, certain collectively established conditions, conceptualisations and various socio-historical processes such as mobilities are closely bound up with and reflected in the art production. Moreover, artworks are more than mere symbols that could be clearly read – art objects are made by individual artists and in turn create these artists. They are not merely tools of representation; these objects are processes of explorations of, and reflections upon, individual and social memories, emotions, identities and life courses. In this sense artists create these objects as much as the objects, or more precisely, the making of the art objects, create both the artists as social actors and their particular sociality.