Our world is awash with information. The messages being beamed at us are often repetitive and deliberately crafted: designed to influence us. Often the intention behind media such as news and advertising is to persuade us to adopt a specific belief, conclusion or behaviour.
Learning to ask questions helps us to see beyond the intended message and make up our own minds.
In Week 1 at The Laboratory of Dissent Laurence Dube-Rushby occupied the art gallery. Her message “I am not dangerous, I am in danger” immediately brought to mind the refugee crisis first dubbed “migrant crisis” in the news. Laurence offered an alternative viewpoint.
But what other meanings can you find in this image?
She has also erected the signs “Artist, Mother, Immigrant”. In that order, it appears that,’Immigrant’ is the last label she might identify with.
If the narrative surrounding ‘the other’ (aka non-British people) in this country creates a dominant assumption that this image is making a statement about migrants…. what, alternative meanings are being obliterated?
There is no right and wrong.
In The Laboratory of Dissent we are looking for dissensus. That is, the visible presence of multiple, conflicting viewpoints.
Through dissent (aka questioning) we hope to improve our understanding of the structures and systems acting upon us, as well as our power to imagine alternatives through collective and collaborative dialogue.
You are welcome to participate in the dialogue throughout – including at the symposium on the 23 – 24 September.
Week 3, Lab Notes: what *hegemonic narratives are present?
The narrative that makes out ‘migrants’ are a national threat. I have observed this being pushed upon us via the media, culminating in obfuscation in recent weeks with politicians using this (now loaded) word to refer to refugees. Now, like references to the Mouffe essay, references to the refugees and ‘migrant narrative’ are interwoven through each week. In the video below I share an experience I had at the UK Airport border control (an immigrants perspective).
*N.B. If you were wondering, “hegemony” refers to the status quo. A hegemonic narrative pushes a singular viewpoint or belief as ‘common sense’. By deliberately pushing their message, those in power create a consensus around an issue which is so dominant that all alternative viewpoints are silenced. (In this way, a hegemonic narrative supports the status quo and serves those in power.) Hegemony also refers to as “established norm” including norms of behaviour, dress, and opinion. Hegenomic narratives and and institutions are the established structures in society that re-enforce the norm. The recent backlash against the word ‘migrant’ was a counter-hegemonic movement, which asserted a new hegemony. It is no longer socially acceptable to refer to refugees as migrants because the media has loaded the word with such negative connotations. Whist there is a broad social and cultural context for hegemony, CAS artists are also exploring their own ‘established norms’ – every organisation or social group has them.
Maija Liepins is collaborating with Kirsty Smith and Isaac Whitcombe during the Laboratory of Dissent project, a new exhibition at The Winchester Gallery. You can join the dialogue at the Laboratory of Dissent Symposium on 23 – 24 September. Book today on Eventbrite.