© Franziska Agrawal 1999 - 2020
all rights reserved.
The world is my country
Globalization is an integral feature of modernity. It has the potential to transform local experiences into global ones, to unify the disparate villages of the world into a global community, and to integrate national economies into an international economy. At the same time, however, the process of globalization brings about the loss of cultural identity. Culture and globalization have come to be understood as mutually exclusive and antithetical; the former is typically associated with one specific culture while the latter signifies the homogenization of all cultures into one. For the global citizen, self-understanding and cultural identity are defined by the lack of belonging to a specific culture. Global citizens loose their sense of belonging and become strangers to society, but in return they gain the freedom of self-expression and self-definition since they are unfettered by the normative constraints of culture and society. Thus, if cultural identity is ultimately determined by difference and if global citizens are defined in terms of their lack of these distinguishing cultural characteristics, then these individuals can be neither identified nor classified—they are neither different nor the same. Faced with these global citizens and their amorphous cultural identities, society often reacts by exaggerating the differences that it can identify. A mosaic of different influences and experiences is thereby reduced to one cultural category, which is usually determined by some objective factor such as race or language. In this way, although theoretically exempt from categorization, the global citizens become the “most heavily stereotyped.”
This project ‘Made in’ attempts to depict this investigative process by way of a visual satire. Through it I want to communicate my sense of alienation and displacement and to challenge the misconceived, stereotypical identifications of myself. I seek to accomplish this by ceasing to resist the prejudices and stereotypes and instead embracing and personifying them in an exaggerated and satirical manner. This way I can expose the folly of prejudice and categorization, as well as free myself from the need to constantly explain my actual personal history. At the same time, my status as a global citizen devoid of distinctive cultural attributes allows me to assume stereotypical guises from other cultures and societies. By modifying my physical appearance, I want to portray a variety of stereotypes referring to differences in race, ethnicity, caste, and class. Thus, I am not only interested in calling attention to how people are classified across cultures, but also within cultures.
I have grown-up and lived in a global world and have come to define myself as such, as a person not belonging to just any one culture. My ‘Home’ is not bound to any one location, but rather to a spiritual experience of culture and people. For me, living between cultures feels more “natural” because my personality reflects the combination of different cultures, views and social belongings.
Home is where the heart is
Yet as much as I define and identify myself as a global citizen, at home anywhere and everywhere, the cultures and societies in which I live do not easily accept my status and constantly try to place and categorize me. Wherever I feel at home I am simultaneously perceived as a outsider, tourist, and member of a foreign culture. In my home country Germany I am familiar with this experience being perceived as a stranger. Since every person is a foreigner outside his or her home country, I am often a foreigner and native at the same time.
Kleidung macht Leute
Thus, by portraying myself as the most common held idea about who we are and where we come from, I commensurate with the stereotype projected onto me and thus escape the constant need to explain why I am not who I am believed to be. Categorization as an old and inherent attribute of a human being and its behavior in society, I want to show that in our world today we could become anything and take over any role.
since 2008 ongoing lifetime project by Franziska Agrawal and Katja Kulenkampff
Publication: Jessica Petraccaro-Goertsches. “Made in”, Umschau, in: Stimmen der Zeit. Heft 8, 2016 (Bd. 233), S. 455-466