On Discrepancy by Joshua Unikel

A Process Note

On Discrepancy reworks Erving Goffman’s The Presentation of the Self in Everday Life as a way of moving his conversation about the performance of culture and norms into a much more personal, lyric mode. In many ways the content and even the arguments remain similar, but my version tries to make the reader feel more vulnerable and accountable for the uglier, more hidden ways that we inflict culture on one another and the violence that normativity often incites. I wanted to mimic the lyric craft of a text-within-a-text from Mary Ruefle’s A Little White Shadow but with the sociopolitical implications and use of redaction from Jenny Holzer’s Redaction Paintings and her Dust Paintings. The use of redaction for my project felt fitting because it moves a traditionally governmental mode of writing into a much more individual and emotive sphere. I liked how solid and impenetrable those solid black lines look, but instead of leaving the reader with a treated, sanitized text, I wanted her to find something even more fraught and troubling than the original.








Joshua Unikel works at the intersection of visual and literary art. He has shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; DesignPhiladelphia; Griffith University Art Gallery (Brisbane); and elsewhere. His work has appeared in Western Humanities ReviewEssay ReviewThe JournalSonora ReviewThe Collagist, and other national journals. He teaches graphic design at The University of Houston’s Kathrine G McGovern School of Art.