Sara Davies


When words falter in translation I feel a desire to touch, to form my life story in artworks, letting visual images express my movement between cultures. I examine issues of belonging in the Swedish diaspora in the north of England, bringing a minority discourse into the public realm. In my art practice I articulate the embodied experience of negotiating two cultures, transforming Homi Bhabha’s notion of ‘third space’ into visual forms. Using my art practice as an example of haptic experience and this essay as a platform to reflect, I examine the relation between making and making sense in diaspora.

When words falter, I encounter things haptically. Diasporic touch is a conceptual idea naming a reiterated gesture in my practice which gathers cultural material from established narratives and reassembles them into visual forms. Diasporic touch is a performative gesture that opens up an imaginary space where closeness disrupts linear time and making art generates a sense of being at ease. Using Nikos Papastergiadis’ ideas of ‘hyphennetic energy’ and bridging, and Julia Kristeva’s theories of signification and subjectivity formation, I will analyse my Anglo-Swedish diasporic sliding motion between two cultures.

Keywords: belonging, diaspora, Scandinavian studies, materiality, haptics, affect, art practice, performativity, photography

Full text: OAJ_issue7_Davies_06 (PDF 1.8 MB).

DOI:  http://dx.doi.org/10.5456/issn.2050-3679/2019s06

Biographical note
Sara Davies is a Associate Lecturer and a Ph.D. student at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research project, ‘Creating images of belonging through diasporic touch’, is investigated through art practice. She uses performance, photography, moving image and creative writing to explore belonging in diaspora. After completing a BA (Hons) in Fine Art at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design Davies relocated to Manchester and completed an MA in Visual Culture at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2003. Davies has disseminated her research at conferences such as: Association for Art Historians’ New Voices conference Image Matter: Art and Materiality (2015) at Manchester Metropolitan University, Writing Between the Lines at Cardiff Metropolitan University (2016), Nordic Research Network Bridges Between at University College London (2016), Nordic Research Network The North as Home at University of Aberdeen and the international conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Heritages of Migration: Moving Objects Stories and Home organised by Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham and UNTREF Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (2017).