Semiotic Dungeons
A+a: Art and Australia, Issue Three (54.2): Unnaturalism, Melbourne, 2017

Racialised signs in the contemporary West are a worrisome apparition of an ancient, abominable spirit. From this linguistic vault, the ‘other’ comes into sight through a wicked textuality that festered in antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Age of Discovery, during which difference was ciphered through terror, magic and mystery. This historical continuum accounts for an enigmatic yet familiar mode of othering: the corruption of racial markers into marks of monstrosity. While not always entirely abhorrent, the disfigured signs that emerge from this crypt of representation carry sadistic traces. Torture and torturer may be out of sight, but the manipulation of the racialised figure is evidence of an occult punishment. Like the growls of a chained prisoner hidden in the sepulchral depths of a torture chamber, the monstrous other reveals its gory confinement.


Length: 1650 words