Spaces of Agency: Installation Art in Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For


This article establishes that Tuyen’s practice of installation art functions as a means of negotiating the past’s space within the present. By establishing Tuyen’s initial lack of control over the intrusion of her family’s loss into her physical surroundings, this essay perceives her art practice as Tuyen’s means of gaining agency over the spaces she inhabits and thereby over how the history of her family’s tragedy infiltrates these spaces. As this essay argues, in giving the past a material presence that can be bodily experienced, installation art, as represented by Brand, becomes a key means through which the destructive power of the traumatic past can be defused, though not dismissed.

This article “Spaces of Agency: Installation Art in Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For” originally appeared in Agency & Affect. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 223 (Winter 2014): 67-83.

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