Fragments of what? Postmodernism, Hybridity and Collage

David A. Gall


This paper argues that unresolved issues about identity affecting art historical and art education theory-practice are traceable to modernism’s anxiety about hybridity’s imagined threat to cultural purity and integrity. Postmodernism’s solution to modernist anxiety involved showing the fallacy of deriving identity from essences and exposing identity’s socially constructed origins. This advanced recognition of cultural plurality and relativity, but cast identity’s integrity as the effect of cultural imagination projected onto autonomous fragments. Fragments, however, presuppose wholes. A picture of integrated interrelated dynamic wholes is retrieved by reconceiving the concepts of hybridity and collage outside the dualistic frames of modernism and postmodernism. Reconceived in metonymic terms as constituted of presence and absence, and repositioned within the dialectic of the context-sensitive and context-free tendencies of culture, art pedagogy is established on a foundation that predisposes practice to recognize cultural difference and integrity, in and through transcultural similarities, dynamic agency and interdependence.


art education; postmodernism; identity; hybridity; transcultural

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