The question this article asks is how exhibition histories of contemporary art shift when seen not from the perpetually insistent demands of the north, but from the viewpoints and aspirations of the South. What might a Southern perspective of biennials look like? These largely occluded histories do not quite fit the habitual framings of biennials as beginning with a first wave at the close of the nineteenth century and segueing neatly into the neo-imperial tidal force of the 1990s and 2000s. They instead coincide with what we consider to be a second wave of biennialization that developed from the mid-1950s into the 1980s, and which insisted upon a self-conscious, critical regionalism as the means for realigning cultural networks across geopolitical divides. Biennials of the South had grasped their place in the postwar arc of neo-colonial globalism. But, even more importantly, they then converted that place into the resistant image of cultural, art historical and international reconstruction.
This article's central claim is that a paradigm shift occurred in the intertwining of aesthetic practices, the discursive, and the institutional mechanisms of legitimization and display in the European public sphere from the postwar to the present. More specifically, it foregrounds ‘the problem of Europe’ as it materialized within the modernist rubric of the nation state with Documenta (established 1955) in Germany and the Biennale de Paris (established 1959) in France and in relation to processes of globalization with the peripatetic exhibition Manifesta: The European Biennial of Contemporary Art (established 1996). If postwar cultural initiatives elaborated and exhibited ‘Europe’ as a collection of nation states, the nomadic imperative of Manifesta crystallizes and contributes to the collective imagination of ‘Europe’ and its demos as a permanent experience of the border. Moving from nation state to border state is thus not so much a fully concretized or accomplished political or economic reality as an exhibited cultural proposal for novel iterations of Europe and its publics.
The biennial form was adopted and adapted by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in order to reform its official art exhibition and in response to the rise of multiculturalism and postmodernism in Taiwan's post-martial law era. This article, through a close analysis of the curatorial strategies of the Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale from 1995 to 2011, reformulates our understanding of the biennial not merely as an exhibition format showcasing works of art but as a more flexible mechanism that signifies global postmodernism as both a continuation of and a break from the project of modernism that had been previously carried out by museums. The trajectory of the Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale has shifted from that of an exhibition motivated by a marginalized country's longing for national representation in a global art fair to one that critiques the logic of cultural, political and economic hegemony that dominates the biennale and causes Taiwan's own marginality.
The Israel Museum was inaugurated in 1965. It was promoted as symbol of the nation-building effort in the ‘re-born’ land – now state – of Israel. This found expression in the themed opening exhibitions; the crowning achievement was ‘Old Masters and the Bible’, featuring Rembrandt's Moses with the Tables of the Law and other works loaned by overseas museums. It was a promising start for the fledgling encyclopedic museum in Jerusalem, aspiring to be a beacon of ‘artistic truth’ which (in a paraphrase of Ezekiel) would ‘go forth from Zion’ to the (Western) world. Forty-five years later the Museum was re-inaugurated following major refurbishment and extension. For one of the opening shows, three artists, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Susan Hiller and Zvi Goldstein, were invited to curate individual displays of objects culled from its now overabundant collections. They all addressed topical issues, notably Shonibare's proposition of cultural hybridity as ‘the very opposite of nationalism’. But, granted that the Israel Museum played host to idea(l)s percolating through the postcolonial and globalized world, did the artists succeed in providing ‘the raw material for a possible redistribution of meanings’ (Jean Fisher) in this place of vicious and deadlocked conflict?
This article addresses issues of the presentation and reception of Japanese art and art discourse in the 1950s, focusing on the frequent references to concepts of ‘worldliness’ and ‘globalism’ made by Japanese artists and art critics. With Japan occupied by the Allied Forces from 1945 to 1952, and striving to overcome its own totalitarian past, free itself from US control and regain sovereignty, Japanese art and art criticism too were driven by an ambiguous agenda. Marked by specific interests and visions grounded in continuities of networks and knowledge from earlier decades, their efforts included attempts to integrate and position Japanese art in a global context and paradoxically, yet simultaneously, define it within nationalist paradigms. Exhibitions proved to be a crucial venue for negotiating divergent global claims and affirming cultural borders or defining them anew as they unfolded in the struggle for hegemony in a new world order.
Since 2000 the Korean art world has witnessed the emergence of a new generation of artists. Arriving after the social and political upheavals of modern Korean society, this generation enjoys ready access to the larger world via the internet, ample opportunities to study/travel/work abroad, and broad recognition in international art fairs and exhibitions. Not surprisingly, unlike Korean artists of previous eras, their highly individual and varied works address ever more diverse issues in art, society and history. Their works do not conform to any overarching patterns, characteristics or attitudes that would point to ‘Korea’ as their common origin. What then makes them Korean artists? Do we suppose that their works deliver special insights about a unique culture and society, some definitive Korean-ness? Does it even matter whether we label their art ‘Korean’? By both exposing and questioning current discourse based in the transcendent ‘cult of origin’ of our seemingly globalized art world, this article will probe the possibilities of a ‘post-global’ paradigm in hopes of identifying a new path for arts discourse.
The rise of contemporary Asian art to global art, its huge success on the world stage of art exhibitions and art markets, is largely due to the ‘biennial effect’. This article scrutinizes the Asian biennial factor in pushing Asian art into the global arena through the lens of the Gwangju Biennale. South Korea initiated the Asian art biennale wave – the first Asian biennale took place in Gwangju in 1995. The history of the Gwangju Biennale, from its beginning as a local-regional exhibition to a truly global Asian exhibition, provides profound insights into the international making and global marketing of contemporary Asian art, including Korean art. By comparing four Gwangju biennales – the start-up biennale of 1995, the millennium biennale of 2000, the first decisively Asian biennale of 2006 and the most recent biennale of 2012, the forces of internationalization and globalization on art, biennial art curating and criticism in Asia are investigated.
This article examines the rise in the global value of contemporary Chinese art since the 1980s, setting this development in the context of a wider theorization of globalization processes. This contextualization involves a historical analysis of the institutional and market dominance of Western art organizations, discourses and socio-economic power in the world. Identified as ‘gatekeepers’, the significance of these agencies – such as the auctioneers Sotheby's, the museums Tate, London, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York – is assessed in a consideration of the rise of artworks by Ai Weiwei, Chin Yifei and Xiogang. The article also considers the relevance to the global rise of Chinese art of volatility in the behaviour of the Chinese government in allowing an arts infrastructure to develop and the significance of late Cold War politics practised by the remaining world superpowers.
This article explores some key moments in a history of recent art in Istanbul that have been at odds with, though not wholly separate from, dominant forces associated with capitalizing globalization that continue to reshape spaces of and for art, in the city and beyond. In so doing, while problematizing the legibility of sexuality and sexual identities, and pointing to the complicity of certain conceptualities of the sexual with capitalizing globalization, the article offers modes of analysis of the comings and goings of the sexual in art as they play through figurings of gender, further terms of identity, but also senses of space more generally. Considering work by, among others, Bülent Şangar, Aydan Murtezaoğlu, Hale Tenger, Kutluğ Ataman, Murat Morova, Selda Asal, Selim Birsel, Taner Ceylan, İnci Eviner, Ceren Oykut and Zeren Göktan, the essay reaffirms the disturbance of detached viewing that questions of sexuality attest, while pointing to an unstable seriality of sites they implicate.
The most violent of the forces of globalization, imperialist colonization – whether as military, economic or cultural invasion – has provided the subject for American artist Martha Rosler's critiques and projects over the course of nearly fifty years of artistic practice. This article provides an original account of the significance of Rosler's return, during the American ‘war on terror’ in the 2000s, to her previous anti-war photomontage series, originally produced in the 1960s and 1970s during the American war in Vietnam, entitled Bringing the War Home. Through a critical examination of the concept of the reboot as operative within both the Bush administration's policies and the meta-critique of such policies which Rosler's activist art strategies deploy, this article situates these photomontages within the artist's overall practice, particularly her work appropriating popular cultural forms, formats or artefacts, as well as her work critiquing forms of American military imperialism, especially in Chile.
Since 2008, the inaugural year of an ongoing ‘crisis’, globalization has strongly emerged as an economic, rather than cultural, reality in the making – principally through a conflict between capital and labour. As feminism tackles the gendered division of labour, what kind of context does ‘the 2008 effect’ illuminate for the struggle to end gender and sex-based oppression, and how are feminist narratives of art contributing to this struggle? With the aim of encouraging a feminist dialogue on this urgent question, three lines of feminist opposition are identified that can be practised in the art world: a) resistance to the historicization of feminism, as feminist knowledge is indispensible for subverting globalization as crisis; b) a commitment to a biopolitical paradigm implying a shift of emphasis from the partiality of the ‘body’ to the more rounded concept of ‘life’; c) an exploration of the potential offered by feminist collectivism and a practice of seeking alliances rather than advocating insular, and separatist, feminist platforms.
Third Text is published in print and online by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.