Being at Home

In her book Contemporary Art and the Cosmopolitan Imagination, Marsha Meskimmon writes that the domestic has become integral to works that “seek to engage the transnational flows and cross-cultural exchanges that characterize globalization” (2). By referring to notions of home that are concerned with the global – such as geo-temporal shifts and multiplicity – these works invoke questions about the nature of identity, politics, ethics, and a “cosmopolitan imagination” in a transnational world (5). Meskimmon posits:

What are the ethical and political implications of be(long)ing at home everywhere, of a “cosmopolitan imagination” that is premised upon an embodied, embedded, generous, and affective form of subjectivity in conversation with others in and through difference? Cosmopolitanism…is grounded, materially specific and relational; it is a committed address to cultural diversity and movement beyond fixed geo-political borders (6).

Art is able to create new forms of the social imaginary that address negotiations in politics and agency when borders are not fixed, and belonging is a process (7). Through an aesthetic of openness to others and a conception of affect as social, art facilitates dialogue across differences in identity (7). Art materializes the cosmopolitan imaginary, and by connecting the abstract to the concrete, it is able to make us reconsider our position within global cultural flows and the ethical and political frameworks that structure our understanding of the world.

Marsha Meskimmon will present her paper “Materializing Transversal Worlds: The Question of Cosmopolitan Public Art” as part of the Critical Cosmopolitanism panel this Saturday, alongside Nikos Papastergiadis .


Meskimmon, Marsha. Contemporary Art and the Cosmopolitan Imagination. London: Routledge, 2011.

About SE

Sandra Evoughlian is currently completing her Master’s in Art History at McGill University. For her thesis project, she seeks to investigate contemporary artists who materially and infrastructurally act upon architecture through installations as a way to build and contest collective memory. Interested in questions around cultural heritage, co-creation, and knowledge transfer, Evoughlian has experience in public programming, including an internship at the Art Gallery of Ontario. She has also worked as a research assistant at McMaster University, and as a curatorial assistant at Art in the Workplace, McMaster Innovation Park.