The Gutter, Its Boundaries, and Mis-Guided Drifts

By: Á. Clotilde Houchon  

This a/r/tographical study was the third in a series of youth-driven Comic Book Art Apprenticeships and Visual Studies. Its purpose was that of border aesthetics, to create a set of inherently geographical and artistic strategies for analyzing and deconstructing hard space, or fixed borders, in transmigrant youth comic book art. Through deconstruction and associated movement methods (i.e., a cosmic treadmill, BorderXing, and the monstrous), hard space or fixed bordered forms of representation were countered, that is, where the gutter was thought a dystopic, unaccounted-for void where nothing happened. Instead, the gutter was redrawn and reconstituted as an uncanny, lively, alien territory, where the cultural enunciation of entangled or hybrid, small-scale resistances against the status quo flourished. By installing invention and experimenting with subject suspension, relationality was the focus rather than fixed dualisms such as empty or full, human and not. Panel borders were broken, thus liberating the gutter, the space between and around panels, as a/r/tographers crossed borders and spaces through artifacts. By dwelling in the space of the imagination and playing with normalized conditions at the margin of the panel, the redrawn gutter opened possibilities to what a border work could be rather than what it was or had been. Thus, imaginaries were co-created to refuse closure, or the either/or logic, which had been imaginatively and co-productively deconstructed. Border aesthetics emphasizes the importance of art forms like comic book art in constructing and tracing borders, in actively rebordering space, and in regulating embodied border crossing narratives in migratory culture.

Aesthetic Refusal, Border Aesthetics, BorderXing, Exit Strategies, Subaltern Places, Comics
2020 Special Focus - Against the Grain: Arts and the Crisis of Democracy
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Á. Clotilde Houchon

United States
UT, United States