Editorial Lines of Flight
01.03 – 10.05
Lines of Flight, a zine dedicated to the journey from belonging to a new togetherness
Lines of Flight* invites artists and writers to rethink notions of belonging and integration through a visual language, by stepping away or towards points of departure and arrival.
Displacement holds within itself the memory of the origin as well as extending visions to the new horizons of the destination. It abandons, preserves, and reshapes forms of belonging. Displacement of any form—forced or voluntary—drags and pushes the displaced person between the two points. They are in a constant struggle within a dichotomy or convergence between memories of belonging and integration towards a fresh start. Home, a supposedly familiar landscape, is blurred by transposition across the displaced person’s former national borders. The displaced align the two realities of their existence by rethinking while also recollecting.
In the mid-1990s, civil engineers performed a so-called load-bearing capacity experiment to investigate the resistance behavior of glass and timber as two vulnerable components in structural and architectural elements of buildings. Engineers installed strain sensors positioned in different parts of these components to measure local and global displacement, and thus calculate the range of bending in a beam and the fragility of stiffness of glass under shock or pressure until it reaches the yield stress point and breaks. How much can glass bear under certain amounts of load until it shatters? How far can a beam bend until it breaks?
Displacement in mechanics is defined as the distance moved by a particle or body in a specific direction. In the load-bearing capacity experiment, “global displacement” referred to the distance of a beam from the initial point of its stability compared to its new bending zone, and “local displacement” to the internal deformation of each element due to its behavior under compression or tension. These metaphors bring us to the definition of displacement in social sciences as the voluntary or forced resettlement of a person or group of people. The struggles of displaced people, such as those involved in the process of assimilation, put them under cultural, mental, and identity-related pressures while extending their visions and horizons.
Cultural integration tends to be a form of stress for newcomers because it drags them farther from their place of belonging and pulls them towards their new location. The displaced person is in between histories. The experiences of newcomers reshape their life experience as a disassociation from original context and give rise to new horizons.
Displacement, mobility, and traveling shed light on future opportunities. How will a displaced person function with the sociocultural tensions created by their destination? What does the pattern of their fracture look like? In what direction will they be pushed or disassociated from their identity?
(*Lines of Flight is the title of an exhibition on the archive of Nilima Sheikh, presented from 19 May 2018 until 18 June 2018 at the Asia Art Archive Library in Sheung Wan, Hongkong.)