Towards Trialectic Space: An experiment in cultural misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

Prof. Clive Barstow (ECU)
2016 Conference

This paper presents a praxical model of collaboration between artists in Australia and China in which the misrepresentation and misinterpretation of language (Ang 1997) within Homi Bhabha’s (1990) thirdspace theories are examined. To avoid the polarities of othering (Dervin, 2014), I adopt Henri Lefebvre’s model of cumulative trialectics (1991) as a new thirdspace that more accurately represents the complexities of modern day geographies and hybrid communities by extending the binary analysis of the past and present and beyond the real and the imagined. Trialectics expand our understanding beyond physical geographies by suggesting a cerebral space that searches for new meaning and is therefore more radically open to additional otherness and toward a continuing expansion of [human] spatial knowledge and imagination.

In this paper and through exhibitions in Australia and China, I  suggest that cumulative trialectics can contribute a form of transference beyond  praxis. Lacan’s (1977) vel (of meaning, being and the void of nonsence) introduces an element of a meaningless nothingness space in which misinterpretation can be celebrated, an equation that can offer a disjointed time (and place) within which  the imagination of the viewer engages (as transference). Julia Lossau describes thirdspace as a space that “…tends to be transformed into a bounded space which is located next to (or, more precisely) in-between other bounded spaces, like a piece of a jigsaw” (2009). This bounded space as a mechanism of transference is examined in my own hybrid jigsaws as a response to and reflection of the collaboration.

Download Full text PDF (1.44 MB)

About the author

Prof. Clive Barstow (Edith Cowan University)


Clive Barstow’s exhibition profile includes forty years of international exhibitions, artist residencies and publications in Europe, America, Asia and Australia. His work is held in a number of international collections, including the Musse National d’Art Paris. Clive is Professor and Dean of Arts & Humanities at Edith Cowan University, Honorary Professor of Art at the University of Shanghai for Science & Technology China and global faculty member of Fairleigh Dickinson USA. His recent exhibitions include “Giving Yesterday a Tomorrow” at the Hu Jiang Gallery in Shanghai and recent publications include “Encountering the Third Space” at the University of Oxford UK.