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  • Artist StatementViolent Journeys
  • Debjani Chakravarty (bio)

Violent Journeys is a digital painting created using the software programs Photoshop, ArtRage, and ms Paint. I started focusing heavily on digital art after coming to the United States in 2006. As an accounted-for “alien” without too many art resources, including physical space, digital art became my refuge. I used this “non-messy” medium to continue making my abstract and surreal paintings. I have now switched back to traditional art: I use a lot of pastels, watercolors, color pencils, and acrylics, as well as found and recyclable objects to create art. Digital art for me, however, remains shrouded in nostalgia and hope; it reminds me of displacement, loneliness, and creative excitement.

This particular painting has a personal backstory, and I choose to not make it public. Wary somewhat of a culture of disclosures and confessions, I am forever mindful of the politics of sharing, the burden of too much information, the anxiety of self-information management, and academic/activist/artistic performances. The themes of the backstory have to do, however, with the violence of transnationalism, and this is why I feel that this art fits this special issue on transnational feminisms.

To me, as to many transnational feminist scholars, issues of globalization are inseparable from using transnational feminism as a body of theory, a methodology, and a model of collaborative knowledge creation and feminist interventions. In this painting I portray globalization as essentially violent, including the violences of exchange, change, war, mobility, alienation, and excitement.

No discussion on current forms and effects of globalization can leave out centuries-old stories of globalization in which empire building and colonization allowed capitalism to spread and rule like a state, and trafficked human beings on whose oppressed backs the new worlds accumulated wealth. One cannot leave out stories of the spread of religion and technology, texts and taxes. One cannot simply start from the present day where previously colonized, economically drained, arbitrarily created “third-world countries” [End Page 137] swimming in debt are forced to “open themselves” to capitalism and free trade, which makes their existing inequities deeper and more permanent. Globalization washes its hands of violence with soap manufactured in maquiladoras; globalization looks away as Rana Plaza collapses and drones cause human bug splats; the World Trade Center is attacked and becomes a reason for attacks; and toxic gas envelopes Bhopal. Globalization suppresses stories of anti-capitalist uprisings and placates discontent with cyber Monday sales. Globalization spreads self-righteous discontent about starvation and female genital “mutilation” while enthusiastically exporting a cult of thinness and body-image stress and eating disorders. This art represents many such stories of violence: stories that span the personal and the political, and all the sticky spaces in between. [End Page 138]

Debjani Chakravarty

debjani chakravarty is assistant professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Grand Valley State University; she has previously taught at Arizona State University and the University of Utah. She received her PhD in gender studies from Arizona State University. Her current research focuses on the epistemology of transnational feminisms, the development of feminist discourses, and collaborative epistemic exchange between scholars and activists in/between the global North and South. Her research areas also span feminist epistemology, pedagogy, and methodology; gendered citizenship and nationalisms; and globalization and the new media. She also creates poetry and abstract art as a way to understand and reframe realities.



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pp. 137-138
Launched on MUSE
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