manifesto

BOUND, UNBOUND, REBOUND: A MANIFESTO

Bound-a-ry n
the official line that divides one area of land from another
the point at which something ends or beyond which it becomes something else

Boundaries are not real; they are an invention of the psyche, which attempts to order and organize for safety and control. The division between land and sea is a fiction, for water is a continuum flowing beneath, over, and through the land as well as every living cell of the biota that exist within this system.

We imagine our skin as a boundary, a place where our insides are divided and protected from the outside world. However, our seemingly discrete bodies are actually in a constant state of negotiation with all that surrounds; we exchange air, fluids, nutrients, and toxins, integrating and expelling these substances over and over as long as we live.

We divide our societies with political boundaries. Countries, states, counties, cities, boroughs, and neighborhoods are an invention. The invisible lines that surround and contain many of these districts are arbitrary and meaningless. We actually live side by side by side by side, infinitely, across the globe. Inside of our imaginary borders, we separate ourselves even further along social lines of class, race, religion, gender, political affiliation, sexual preference, age, occupation, and many other classifications. These divisions, too, are fairly superficial. We are all human beings trying to survive. It might be possible for us to recognize our uniqueness and our connectedness simultaneously—a revolutionary thought.

As we “progress” as a culture, we become more compartmentalized, professionals specializing in more and more specific areas of inquiry. University departments become isolated from one another, and even within departments we make myriad distinctions. “Interdisciplinary” has become an aberration from the norm, though all education should function in this multiplicative way. Knowledge, which overlaps, builds, synthesizes, and expands, does not occur in a vacuum.

I am for an art that will erase, highlight, and rearrange boundaries in order to reorient, realign, reconnect, redistribute, and redefine relationships in the personal and political realms (which are actually one and the same). It is only an art that takes this task as its goal, which will release us from our bindings. It is only an artist who takes this task as his/her goal, who will be free.

Lauren Rosenthal, 11/14/05