A theory and practice of visual art, framing the heterotopia of home and belonging
: A refugee’s continued sense of exile between homeland and host land

  • Azad Mohammed

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Within contemporary processes of forced displacement, complex concepts of home, place and belonging produce personal and collective behaviour based on the interactions with a refugee’s host land. These reactions to displacement continue, no matter how long the exile is protracted. The impact of unstable feelings and perceptions of home and belonging will remain within the individual and the diaspora and are passed down through generations. Their emergence is specified by locality, experiences and interactions that generate feelings of disorder, complexity and chaos.
The main contribution of this exegesis, which reflects on visual art practice as
research, is a new perspective into a recognised key problem of the perceptions of home amongst diaspora communities. An empirical connection between people and places through an artist’s experience is used to examine this sense of dislocation. The critical reflection on artistic practice responds to the refugee crisis within the Middle East after 1990 and the direct influence of my visual art practice through 32 years, including as a forcibly displaced artist. Personal experiences of displacement underpin both art practice and critical reflection.
The methods used form an interplay between theory and practice, based on the
production of a series of sculptural and installation works and a written exegesis that draws attention to the social production of home and belonging; modern perspectives of home are analysed through literature, context and creative practice. The significant problem of identifying and perceiving other places as home is approached from an artist’s perspective to obtain outcomes that differ from conventional models. Detailed outcomes expose mixed processes of creating that are all related to an artist’s voice and vision. The approach taken provides an alternative method of studying the concept of home through visual art and conceptual creative practice.
Further contributions and comparisons with various artist practitioners are made
throughout this exegesis and provide a significant foundation for study of the visual representation of perceptions of home in a new setting, portraying a continued sense of exile between homeland and host land.
Date of Award1 Oct 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorNatasha Vall (Supervisor), Simon McKeown (Supervisor) & Robert Burton (Supervisor)

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