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

  • Veronica Austen St. Jerome's University


Abstract: 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.  

Author Biography

Veronica Austen, St. Jerome's University

Veronica Austen is an Assistant Professor, specializing in Canadian and Postcolonial literatures, at St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Her research interests include visual experimentation in Caribbean and Canadian poetry and the portrayal of the visual arts in contemporary Canadian literature.