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Monica Juneja (Heidelberg)

Vortrag: When art embraces the planet – or what comes after inclusion?

 

The global and curatorial turns marking contemporary art worlds are frequently celebrated as a conjuncture that for the “West ... means applying the rule of inclusion/exclusion to itself” (Peter Weibel). By making visible the terms of inclusion, my talk will examine the modalities of re-inscribing the excluded in cultural institutions and aesthetic practices through a staging of narratives that aspire to be more complete and just. Does incorporating art from beyond the West within contemporary exhibition circuits, the smooth transition from “xenophobia to xenophilia” (Sarat Maharaj) that marks modern multi-culturalism, engender a discursive space to remap cultural geographies and theorize the dystopian/disjunctive condition of contemporaneity, or does it merely answer global capitalism’s need for new commodities? Do new boundaries come into being in the wake of the connectivity that dissolves older ones? My discussion of these issues will take as its starting point the famous – also much chastised – exhibition of 1989, Magiciens de la Terre, conceptualized as the first planetary show of contemporary art that at the same time sought to challenge the conventions of exhibition- making within the narrow confines of the art world and its modernist taxonomic frames. Curated by Jean-Hubert Martin, at that time Director of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the show aspired to create a display in which cultural differences could coexist without a homogenizing agenda. My investigation will follow its bold topography across continents to those sites where the works that had travelled to Paris were produced and anchored, and to examine their post-Magiciens lives: my urge is to read objects, their producers and curators coevally, while restoring to the sites their own historicity. The example of South Asia will be used to draw out the complex histories of cultures that live in a permanent and fluctuating relationality with one another and whose dynamics get lost when we exclusively attend to dismantling the centrality of the so-called “West”. These multi-scalar stories sensitize us to new fault lines and take us beyond the “Anschließen-Ausschließen” divide.

 

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