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Global and Local Art Histories
Global and Local Art Histories
Celina Jeffery and Gregory Minissale
CAMBRIDGE SCHOLARS PUBLISHING
Global and Local Art Histories, edited by Celina Jeffery and Gregory Minissale
This book first published 2007 by
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
15 Angerton Gardens, Newcastle, NE5 2JA, UK
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Copyright © 2007 by Celina Jeffery and Gregory Minissale and contributors All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.
ISBN 1-84718-252-6; ISBN 13: 9781847182524 To Clare
TABLE OF CONTENTSAcknowledgements
Recombinant Art Histories
GREGORY MINISSALEChapter One
Local Responses, Global Pandemic: Rethinking Representations of HIV/AIDS
ROYCE W. SMITHChapter Two
Local-Global Positions in Zarina Bhimji’s Out of Blue
ALICE CORREIAChapter Three
Contemporary Photography: Between the Global and the Local
FREDERICK GROSSChapter Four
South Africa: Empowering the Local
JILLIAN CARMANChapter Five
Mapping Estonian Modernism: Mrt Laarman and The Eesti Kunstnikkude Ryhm
JONATHAN BLACKWOODChapter Six
Indian Modernism: The Progressive Artists Group
SAVITA APTETable of Contents viii Chapter Seven
A Short History of Anti-Illusionism
GREGORY MINISSALEChapter Eight
Dialogues between ‘Orientalism’ and Modernism in Shirin Neshat’s ‘Women of Allah’
AMNA MALIKChapter Nine
The Fabric of Nomadism: Stitching the Global and the Local
HEE-YOUNG KIMChapter Ten
Nailing the Global Body: from Kongo to Witkin
OLIVIER CHOWChapter Eleven
Beyond Mediation: The Long Yams of Maprik, Papua New Guinea
LUDOVIC COUPAYEChapter Twelve
Internet Art: Global and Local Heterotopia
CELINA JEFFERYChapter Thirteen
Raqs Media Collective: Nomadism in Art Practice
ELENA BERNADINIChapter Fourteen
“Can I be Slovene too?”
DIANA HEISEChapter Fifteen
The Dialogics of Chocolate: A Silent DIALOG on Israeli-Palestinian Politics
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank Matthew Akers, Karen Holt, Martin Gaughan, Dawn Ades, University of Essex, Anthony Shelton, University of British Colombia and the Departments of Art History and Exhibitions at the Savannah College of Art and Design for their encouragement writing this book.
I am particularly grateful to the Savannah College of Art and Design for their financial assistance allowing me to attend ‘Art Histories: Global and Local Mediations', at the 32nd Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians, Leeds in 2006, as well as their support for my academic projects over the years.
I would like to thank Firuza Pastakia for many interesting discussions about postcolonial theory that have informed the approach taken in this book and helped with the selection of essays. I would also like to acknowledge the kindness and wisdom of artists M. F. Husain, F. N. Souza and Nahid Ali, all of whom I met in Karachi years ago and who opened my eyes to the world of art beyond Europe and America.
I owe a debt of gratitude to London Metropolitan University and the University of Leeds for their help and support during my preparation convening the session, “Art Histories: Global and Local Mediations” at the 32nd Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians, held at the University of Leeds, in 2006, which was an important starting point for this book. Many thanks also, to Nighat Yusuf, Victoria and Albert Museum and Malcolm Sired for reading earlier drafts and for their valuable insights and suggestions.
There are now many books on postcolonial theory, yet relatively few of them gather together sustained, dynamic and insightful analyses of visuality, art and art history outside of hegemonic Euro-American themes and concerns. Global and Local Art Histories explores what it means to have a global and local experience of art. The 15 essays published here by specialists in various fields of non-Western art suggest ways of interpreting works of art from a broad range of cultural perspectives, many of them transcultural.
Here are voices contesting concepts of history and culture, evaluating and exploring global and local identities in a changing world. Because of the variety of different approaches and cultural perspectives that Global and Local Art Histories brings together, the book presents a unique opportunity to question what we mean by that dangerously globalising category: “the work of art” and “art history” exploring “glocal” approaches that challenge such falsely universalising rubrics.
One of the major objectives of Global and Local Art Histories is to question essential binaries, such as global/local modernism/traditionalism; us/them and here/there by unpacking a conception of global and local as a social and psychological phenomenon, as explanations and views of the world, and as various outlines of practice reproducible anywhere. The book focuses on both the continuum lying underneath binaries like global/local and their perceived disjunctures. What has emerged is a picture of both the productive and problematic relationship between the local and global as experienced in the creation and reception of art. All the essays in this book explore a diversity of interpretations of what this relationship means in various communities around the world.
The book arises from broader questions about the value of art history, where it is going, its methods and its possible choices of transformation, if any. Many of these issues were raised at the 32nd Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians, held at the University of Leeds, in 2006 entitled, Art and Art
Introduction xiHistory: Contents. Discontents. Malcontents. Six of the essays here were based on papers presented at the session 'Global and Local Mediations' convened by the editors of this book. Since then, the book has expanded to include fifteen different essays in order to present a more thorough and diverse treatment of various cultural and transcultural traditions in the arts, challenging readers to think anew about the role of art and art history in negotiating cultural identities and differences. The authors were invited to respond with their own understanding of the concept of local and global art history in regard to a
number of issues:
How can the teaching and learning of culturally and theoretically diverse art histories allow for constructive interaction between the global and the local, which is not just an example of one dominating the other? Do the issues of cultural hybridity and diasporas represent an opportunity for art history to rethink traditional assumptions about cultural identity and interactions between cultures? Is it possible for there to be a globally aware, yet locally grounded art history, where the methods and approaches of one kind of art history can enrich the other? How are issues of art history and modernity mediated in global and local contexts?
At the outset, then, the task was rather complex, as writers had to consider mediations between art histories, the broad and mutable relationships between global and local aspects of culture, and the concept of hybrid cultures interacting on all these levels. The response has included eclecticism, syncretism, debate and difference, not only on the level of the globalising and localising visual cultures examined in this book, but also in the field of art and art history where a variety of different approaches have been adopted to accommodate the stresses of two directions: outwards to globalising projections and inwards to localising reflections.
Another objective of this collection of essays is to look for the join between the global and the local in many different art histories. The essays here explore art from a variety of perspectives and together they form a kind of superposition where the global and the local merge into each other and yet separate, embed themselves in each other as a hybrid concept, or split off from each other in a moment of rupture. Many authors use concepts in postcolonial discourse enunciated by Said, Spivak, Bhabha, Appadurai, and in philosophy, Deleuze and Foucault as ways to frame their essays. Yet, it is important to note that we are dealing here with postcolonial theory from the perspective of art and art history.
None of the authors in this book is content to negotiate the finer points of postcolonial theory or philosophy by moving too far from visual references and from artistic practice. In this regard, these essays demonstrate different routes taken in a general orientation: to relate postcolonial theories, and the ‘new’ languages of theoretical critique to the visual arts and to the cultural differences Global and Local Art Histories xii within them. This various and dynamic critical discourse is also, in a sense, the new “global” language within which we find local visual specificities that are not only enunciated in these essays but have the potential to feed back into the semiosphere with interest. We speak here of the visual, transposing literary, critical and theoretical discourses into its contested domain. Although some would prefer to see postcolonial critical theory advanced here (and in an unexpected sense it is), this book uses the critical theory less as a blunt object, and rather more as a transparent one, as a memory palace, to see through to the realities of life represented and activated by art.
Yet, the question remains, what happens when mediation, hybridity, syncretism and all the other optimistic terms authors use to express a sense of transculturation, seem somehow inadequate to describe the situation “on the ground”? Often, a history of opposing phenomena is necessary, realistic, objective, especially when the operations of the global and the local produce global marginalisations and local ghetto-isations. It is all very well for postcolonial writers to theorise about doing away with binaries and embracing hybridity and cultural difference, but it may be important to preserve a sense of conflict. As Benita Parry reminds us, postcolonial theories may spring from the “free-wheeling pleasures of commuting between cultures available to the privileged postcolonial.”1 Suffice it to say here, that this introduction has the unenviable task of avoiding a totalising vision that homogenises each author’s views and approaches into a general theoretical framework. I would like at least, to preserve a contradiction: a sense of broadly similar conclusions and synergies, that do at times cross and converge, yet also pass through each other to resume their different courses. This preserves voices of difference contesting realities, and provides a sense of mobility, of trajectories continually on the move. The reader is at liberty to combine and recombine the exposition of the essays in this book for different meanings and associations. Whether personal, disjunctive, methodical or linear the reader is urged to take various routes through this book, to get a picture of the present state of art history as a field of negotiation and contradiction between global and local perceptions.
See Benita Parry’s critique of the linguistic, literary and theoretical style of writing of recent postcolonial criticism that seems to have divorced itself from various other aspects of postcolonial reality. There is a rejoinder necessary however, with the insistence that art and the struggles it deals with materially is very much part of this lived reality. In other ways, Parry, quite rightly, seems to agree with Christopher Norris’s censure of “facile textualist thought” yet, ironically resorts to rather difficult textual conundrums of her own. Benita Parry, ‘Signs of Our Times Discussion of Homi Bhabha’s The Location of Culture’ in Rasheed Araeen, ed., et. al., The Third Text Reader on Art, Culture and Theory (London: Continuum, 2002), 251.
Introduction xiiiRoyce W. Smith in “Local Responses, Global Pandemic: Rethinking the Representations and Histories of HIV/AIDS” exposes some of the exclusions and distortions of the art history of representations of those living with HIV/AIDS, and of representations of the disease itself. By speaking from local, personalised perspectives the author breaks the charmed circle of values and assumptions we draw around ourselves to create distances, and challenges official contexts of history. Yet the history of the marginalised that comes into view (and which is part of an emerging history that many authors here are responsible for bringing to our attention in this volume) is a global one of repression, and global and local attempts to erase identities in history and art history. These identities not only belong to those who have died from HIV/AIDS, whose memories resist anonymity in so many ways, but they are also the identities of those who are living with HIV/AIDS; the migrant worker trapped in the nowhere of airport lounges; refugees pushed and shoved into crossing the line of danger; resistance fighters; prisoners; victims of war and famine. Their contestations will put their local struggle onto a global map, to change that map forever.
Royce Smith writes that: “artistic discourses about AIDS should not become globalising in the ways they engage with the illness. Instead, they should dismantle the notion that the body experiences its illness like every other body affected by the same disease—a process of individuation that respects and explores the local ramifications of HIV/AIDS in the contexts of both body and art.” The site of contestation between the global and local is here very much part of the body and its relationship to art and identity. Representations of HIV/AIDS are seen here as a body of work over which global and local discourses fight their metaphysical, political and ideological battles.
Universalising individuated experiences of AIDS victims as in representations of a faceless disease, globalisation-as-art-history here denudes the figure of identity, specifically for global projection and consumption, a world order of paranoiac security that bears a relation to the dynamics of the discourse on terrorism. Only individual, local details and trajectories provide the three dimensions able to subvert these dangerous, often defeatist and most certainly sensationalist globalising images. This point is a powerful one when we consider how relevant it is to globalised images of war and poverty, which not only obliterate local identity and sense through lack of adequate context, but create a dominant, pragmatic and immediate visual accessibility, the language of readability from where indifference and cynicism spring, a language most intimately known by certain gatekeepers of reality: the news editors of the world.
Alice Correia’s essay, “Local-Global Positions in Zarina Bhimji’s Out of Blue” focuses on the disjunctures in history in her examination of local and the Global and Local Art Histories xiv global. The author uses Zarina Bhimji’s film Out of Blue, 2002, as a springboard to discuss how locally centred art can have a global reach: “Originally commissioned for Documenta 11, and later shown at Tate Britain, Out of Blue, depicting burning fields, army barracks, and an abandoned airport has primarily been discussed as a locally sited meditation on the expulsion of Asian people from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972.” Correia, however, suggests that Out of Blue moves beyond this specificity, “to embody British histories and universally recognisable intonations of displacement, trauma and grief. As an artist who is simultaneously British, African and Asian, Zarina Bhimji has frequently produced work that contemplates the consequences of global migration” Bernadini goes on to argue that the localised Ugandan reading is not the only ‘local’ position at work in the film. “Out of Blue’s display at Tate Britain positioned the work within a narrative of British art, and I will propose that the film contains traces of British colonial history and activates memories of British hostility to the arrival of the Asian migrants as they fled Uganda.” The author’s analysis shows that Out of Blue is a polyvalent film that questions relations between the global and local, a process of interrogation which inevitably challenges the static, pig ignorance of racism by its motion, tracing the arc of a traumatic journey from the local to the global and back again. This motion encompasses both statis (the home) and mobility (homelessness) and the journeys between them. These journeys are physical and figurative, for they are also “multiple entryways and numerous interpretations” to understanding identity-as-motion and art as a physical enactment of history.
As the author concludes, what is significant about Bhimji’s work is that “the universal and the particular are able to exist side by side, and that reading Out of Blue through one, does not foreclose access to the other.” Frederick Gross’s “Contemporary Photography: Between the Global and the Local” analyses the work of five contemporary photographers, Gabriel Orozco, Roy Villevoye, Chan Chao, Zwelethu Mthethwa, and Kim Stringfellow. The author focuses on how, in various ways photography has been used either to affirm or undermine some of photography’s “historical signifiers, such as positivist physiognomy, the sublime, and primitivism.” But the essay is also important for what it implies: on the one hand a global “look” for photography as news, and on the other, attempts by photographers who try to challenge the sensationalism and visual stereotyping of this kind of photography. As an art form, the medium is probably the most misunderstood in the wider world as something simply synonymous with “the news”; viewed often out of local context, and with a globalising framework. It is easy to see how, like architecture, photography can function as one of the most political of the arts.
What the essay is also important in showing us is the contestation of the image:
the struggle between global and the local “news” and visual systems in
Introduction xvphotography. Gross is concerned to show that “some of the most interesting work contains a subtle engagement with these outmoded concepts to call attention to and undermine their continued presence.” The author situates Orozco in global-local dialectic, which is no mere posturing but is transformed in his work and becomes his “visual poetry—its lines, stanzas, and compelling metaphors.” The artist himself has resisted territorializations of his work within the “western” canons or genres of photography or sculpture. And it is clear that his work is also conceptually mobile, one might even say conceptually nomadic, slipping in-between the news and art, and spontaneously, effortlessly deconstructing these terms, fragmenting them and reassembling them, one step ahead of the cold, globalising, gaze of critical theory.
Two other photographers grapple with the economic and political fall-out of globalisation. Asian-American photographer Chan Chao emigrated from what was then Burma to the United States in 1978, and has now returned to document Burmese political refugees along the border with India and Thailand to reconnect with his own Burmese identity. South African artist Zwelethu Mthethwa subverts Euro-American visual stereotypes of Africans in terms of anthropology, and the over-abundance of media images of war, famine, AIDS, another way of exploiting Africa for interesting disaster stories and the elusive perfect photograph that launches fame in the world of photography. Instead, Mthethwa photographs the marginalised, local, and diaspora workers on the fringes of Cape Town for example, scenes that do not usually make CNN.
Again, this “anti-subject” is something that often distinguishes Kim Stringfellow’s work which “raises awareness of environmental and ecological concerns felt on a global level, and uses photography to reveal forgotten and inbetween spaces shunned by contemporary mainstream culture. The squatters who populate Slab City…” While “Villevoye uses photography to establish a continuing dialogue with post-colonial discourse. He represents the indigenous Asmati peoples of Irian Jaya as…part of his ongoing artistic exploration of colour and race with particular reference to Dutch colonial history.” In Jillian Carman’s essay “South Africa: Empowering the Local”, we get a continued sense of the disjunctures and conflicts of globalisation and local resistance, but also here is a movement towards a reconciliation between them, a sense of empowerment through the negotiation of identities in history, and a view of history as an opportunity to transform the local and the global. She writes: “A dialogical approach suggests a constructive way for negotiating the fraught terrain of art history within South Africa. The situation in our county, however, is not that of a disempowered local group versus the more powerful global out there. We have the global—the Western—dwelling in our midst and it is powerful and often defensive in maintaining its views of transformation and academic standards. My essay is not meant to be a witch-hunt, an outing of what Global and Local Art Histories xvi many black agitators see as a global/Western/white old-guard. Instead I shall attempt to be an objective reporter, even though I am embedded in that global/Western/white tradition of privilege. I shall try to convey what I hear from people beyond my comfort zone.” Carman gives an account of the complexities of curating an exhibition of South African resistance posters, Images of Defiance, a landmark exhibition of its kind that recognises the importance of history in art history. She shows us that here (and in many other examples one could cite) a double process of marginalisation is at work, a global art history which seeks to forward its own agenda, striking out the perspective of the world from the black South African point of view, and the marginalisation from within South African society.
Carman recognises an important shift in art history away from conventional and often racist value judgements about high art, modernism and identity, but she is at pains to stress that this is an ongoing process. In the essay the reader begins to see a process of ousting Western modernism, directing it away from its psychogeographical privileging at the centre of the world. Rather than looking at South African art from the outside looking in, local South African forms of resistant art demand that they should be considered on their own terms and as part of the specificity of a living history to which art historians are only just beginning to adapt. This essay teaches us something important about the global and the local, we come face-to-face with the negotiation of difference, of different points of view.
South African art makes contemporary art from its own sensitivities and perspectives, without turning to a bogus authenticity or purity,2 and this is, in effect, another interpretation of freedom. Some of the posters published for the first time in this volume are stark and powerful reminders that the best art history lets images speak for themselves; to a certain extent. And here one is reminded of Gerard Mosquera’s view that art critics and historians have a great responsibility, that they should “realize that the way towards an intercultural evaluation of the work of art is not just a question of seeing, but also of listening.” “Empowering the local” is a voice from the margin of a margin, that nevertheless aims to redraw these boundaries, challenging the centre-periphery by laying claim to the right to be heard in history, through blood and ink, and to give art a vital role in the realm of the visual perception of political and social history.
History is the place where global and local narratives are contested.
Jonathan Blackwood’s "Mapping Estonian Modernism: Mrt Laarman and The Eesti Kunstnikkude Ryhm" articulates a local and specific history that has been
erased or marginalised by Europe, the Soviet Union and now the globalising forces of Capitalist economies. Perhaps more surprising in this obliteration of local difference is the response of some Estonian artists themselves, such as Mrt Laarman, whose work Blackwood studies in this essay: “It is this tension between signifiers of nationality, and aspirations towards a borderless, globally comprehensible visual idiom, which animates Laarman’s work in the 1920s, and places him out of step in the march of Estonian history at that time. Just at the moment when Estonians were becoming used to political independence, and working through the consequences that that had for them, Laarman sought to set it aside as irrelevant, sentimental, romantic, and irrational. It is not a common position in smaller cultures at this time.” The essay is a telling account of art and its relationship to the realpolitik of geo-political forces converging on a moment in history where Estonian artistic identity, emerging from the grand narratives of modernism and colonialism, was unceremoniously snuffed out by a brutal kind of globalising force in the shape of the invading Soviet forces of August 1994 that heralded the vast dampening field of the Cold War.
In another post-colonial reconstruction of art history, this time in postIndependence India, Savita Apte in “Indian Modernism and the Progressive Artists Group” examines how the Progressive Artists Group (formed by Francis Newton Souza, Syed Haider Raza, and Krishnaji Howlaji Ara in 1947— extended to include Maqbool Fida Husain, Hari Ambadas Gade and Sadanand Bakre later), configured and contested modernism within the Indian context.
“The Progressive Artists localised modernism was the result not only of a creative hybridity, but was also a site of anti-colonial resistance. For these artists, liberation from colonialism did not suggest a return to pre-colonial structures but rather afforded them an opportunity for an eclectic reformulation of their visual language. Whilst shifting away from the dominant academic conventions prevalent, the Progressive Artists also challenged Eurocentric modernism and redefined it to reflect the identity of an independent India.” Rather than seeing the world through the eyes of European history, these modern Indians contested and debated modernism through and in cooperation with their own diverse and conflicting values. “Although the art histories [of India and Iran] written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century claimed to be objective, there were inherent value judgements based on British stylistic categories against which Indian art was hierarchically graded. Since the project of modernism, with its myth of ‘utopian universalism designed to justify colonialism’, Indian art has been positioned against the west to be judged not for itself but for its relative differences. This asymmetry has in turn fuelled the arguments for the recognition of a localised modernism.” In contrast to the important task of re-writing forgotten and marginalised art histories of modernity other authors in this volume have been more concerned to Global and Local Art Histories xviii give an account of the geographically dispersed “now” of artistic practice. This brings us on to a number of common approaches, charted in the book, “to shift modernity away from its assumed roots in a precise geopolitical terrain in the west, and its accompanying claims of ownership and management, and propose its reconfiguration…”3 In discussing India’s predicament as a dynamic culture in a global sense, and the west’s inability to keep up with this evolving concept and reality, Geeta Kapur writes, “Non-western nations, though struggling with the processes of modernisation, are excluded from claiming modernism”.4 This work of mapping these exclusions continues in the work of several authors here, not as a history of difference and resistance, as we have seen in the last few essays, so much as a form of reconfiguring the future of art history.
Complementing those writers who have been concerned to address perceptions about modernity in the past and creating a bridge between them and contemporary artistic practice is Gregory Minissale’s “A Short History of AntiIllusionism” which traces how contemporary Pakistani, Indian and diaspora artists have adopted anti-illusionist art forms from seventeenth century Mughal and Safavid period painting translating them into a negotiation of culture between cultures in a contemporary sense. In doing this, these artists reposition modernism and postmodernism from the perspective of the “west”, inviting it instead, to look at itself through their eyes, or even not bothering at all with readdressing the balance. Yet, significantly, the use of anti-illusionism by contemporary post-miniaturists, “all with clear attachments to the legacy of Mughal, Safavid and Indian provincial styles of anti-illusionist painting, demonstrate significant social and cultural reinterpretations of anti-illusionism, demythologising it as the sole intellectual project of Euro-American cultures.” In this essay, the language of anti-illusionism, flatness, linearity and hot colour interact with images of the veil and digital, virtual reality as “layers of representation”. Consequently, anti-illusion is shown to be a visual language which has moved on from the limited formalist discourses of the early twentieth century Europe to express ideas of contemporary nomadism, hybridity, flux, polysemy in personal identities and cultural and religious affiliations.
In Amna Malik’s essay, “Dialogues between ‘Orientalism’ and Modernism in Shirin Neshat’s ‘Women of Allah’ ” the author reconfigures debates about modernist and postmodernist flatness to open out the discourse to a wider ideological and cultural domain, not only to include consideration of postrevolutionary Iranian art but its dialogues with feminism, Islamic traditions and postcolonialism: “Neshat and other artists who work between cultures and Iain Chambers, ‘Utopia and art after humanism: Kathleen Petyarre’, Centro Studi Postcoloniali http://www.iuo.it/cps/pub_01.html accessed 03/03/2007 Geeta Kapur, ‘Contemporary Cultural Practice, Some Polemical Categories” in Rasheed Araeen, ed., et. al., The Third Text Reader, 19
Introduction xixaddress them in a similar mode offer both continuity and rupture with different forms of modernism beyond the Western purview. These dialogues across cultures and geographies require an attention to both the specificity of address and the histories of making that may not have “travelled” as easily across time as the artists themselves. If the diaspora has some critical purchase on an understanding of the history of modernism […] then it seems to lie in this kind of genealogical structure that pays attention to the conditions of spectatorship that are now commonplace in visual culture but are slowly entering art historical studies of modernism beyond the West.” This is indeed, the time to recognise the world we live in as a network of responses to the problems and opportunities of modernity, modernism and (unfashionably) the transcendence inherent within them.
Hee-Young Kim's essay "The Fabric of Nomadism: Stitching the Global and the Local" examines the work of three Korean artists, Do-ho Suh, Sooja Kim, and Joon-sung Bae, who re-articulate notions of modernism and nomadic artistic practices, not only in a transcultural sense, but in the way their work challenges traditional notions of art production and reception. This also helps us to shift the expectations of art history, which should conceivably also, adopt a kind of nomadism in its approach to understanding shifting relations between the global and the local. Referring to Do-ho Suh, Hee-Young states, “Believing that the meaning of a work is contingent on different contexts of its presentation, Suh intends to investigate “transportable site-specificity,” in his terms, of the nomadic character of this work.” Through an analysis of the “stuff” of the artists’ work: cloth, textiles and transparent silks, the author weaves threads of narrative fabric, which in their weft and warp are both globally accessible and locally nuanced. The major theme of nomadism is the thread that links ideas of cloth, fabric, stitching, permanence and impermanence, and transposes a number of binaries. Here we build a notion of the architectonic through the sensuous colours and delicate, vulnerable fabric of cloth houses, to experience accounts of migration, memories of home and diaspora. Cloth palaces are visions of the place and memory of the built—worn as well as lived in. We visit the emblems of territorialisation and homogenisation with installations of static, repeated uniforms (Bae), and the wrapping, folding, packing and unpacking of cultural memory and personalised experiences of globalisation through which local residues and histories resurface in the artwork. The essay raises interesting questions about what we do with cloth: tying, fixing, and stitching, ritual and embedded practices that serve as metaphors for notions of permanence and identity. What we do with clothes: pack and unpack them, fold and unfold them are processes used as metaphors for travel, motion, memory and its loss. The play of residual presence in the place and non-place of cloth is traced in patterns Global and Local Art Histories xx of stitching. Elaborating on the unstable relation between theories of modernity and approaches to space, the author contends that the vernacular and the global are mutually dependent. Despite the categorical differences between the vernacular and modernity, the two concepts are fluid. Referring to Gilles Deleuze who characterised modernity as “a state of nomadic deterritorialization,” the author interposes: “the importance of a sense of homeland for nomadic communities in facing “modern anomie” and the phenomenon of globalisation” The hybrid forms of the artists’ works she examines “are a result of the diaspora of the original modernist internal logic in the particular context of postcolonial and post-war Korean art.” Ironically, alternative modernities are constructed through the needlework of traditional crafts, conflating high art with folk art, architecture with cloth, and tailoring with installations.
Nailing wooden figures in African art has previously considered a preserve of African art and social anthropological investigation but Olivier Chow’s essay “Nailing the Global Body: from Kongo to Witkin”, exposes nailing to a wider polysemy. We get a sense of looking through the local to a view of the wider world. Nailing, as the author has demonstrated, has a signifying power that is transformed (and is transformed itself) through many different local examples in African and European cultures, which may or may not share strong semantic connections. As with many theoretical approaches, his eclectic linkages caution us against focussing too hard on trying to unify, rationalise and homogenise, when we have the option of exploring both consonance and dissonance. As a discursive figure, nailing seems to lend itself to many nuances and sensations and local differences, and reveals much about shared attitudes to the body and their relations to complex ideologies and their transformations of the sensational experiences of pain and the spectacle of pain. Chow also looks at the processes of how these relations transmute across cultures. This means negotiating similarities and sometimes irreducible dissimilarities. Sometimes the latter tell us more than similarities. What we are left with is not a universalising theory about nailing but a network of conflicting, interacting and sometimes cooperative relations and processes. These tell us much about the nature of cultural hybridity and difference, what they preserve as unique and what they transform into interactive processes. Different versions of nailing, different identities and processes come together in a space that the reader can reconstruct, negotiating cooperative intensities, even if, on the surface, their literal contexts seem to preserve local resistance. In the process we venture far from globalising, conventional concepts of gallery art to a place of questioning.
In Ludovic Coupaye’s “Beyond Mediation: The Long Yams of Maprik, Papua New Guinea” the author broadens the narrow art historical definition of the work of art to include wider intellectual, social, symbolic and practical
Introduction xxiinteractions that centre on, skirt around and flourish within the cultivation of long yams (‘waapi’) and long yam ceremonies. This detailed study expands our awareness of some of the narrow categories of art employed in some art histories. He writes, “As conflicts tear the community apart, and to avoid troubling the waapi and impinging on their growth, people must co-operate in a harmonious way in order to obtain food. Proscriptions on violence and sex (domains seen as ‘hot’), set by the series of taboos also imply dedication to a task, as well as fitting the ideal of a confident and powerful behaviour that defines a Great Man. As was explained to me on numerous occasions, calm and discreet people are the ones that yield real power, and who are able to produce the best food and the longest waapi. They must remain so as growing waapi necessitates the gathering of opposite elements and regular engagements with spheres and domains sometimes dangerous, capricious and difficult. One who easily loses his temper and who does not possess the required social and bodily qualities (both acquired and maintained through the arduous sets of taboos) cannot succeed, and places himself in a position to be harmed.” Such is the strength and importance of cultivation, evaluation and reflection on long yams in the Maprik area of New Guinea, global awareness can even be subsumed into local categories without difficult processes of mediation. Coupaye is able to explode a number of binaries, such a modern/traditional, elite art and economic and social practice, identity and expression, and he raises fundamental questions about the relationship between the global and local, not as mediations that recreate binaries, but as complex social processes that sometimes allow for these so-called binaries to become indistinguishable. He places long yam cultivation and display in a contemporary context, not as an idealised survival of indigenous practice, but as an integral part of everyday, living practices of social production, and he implicitly demythologises the work of art as a precious, transcendental category displayed behind glass in a museum.
Continuing to dismantle the concept of art as permanent, site specific and museum based, is the new set of challenges represented by Internet art. Using, browsing and pursuing the self through the Internet is closely related to staying, living, being in the city and each of these activities are often incomplete, a myriad of fragmentations, of interactions of diverse experiences and projections that cross each other continually. Urban life is an intricate network of memory pathways that are like complex strands, layers and networks, interlaced by major arteries and knots, organically matted and as dense in their history and their recombinative potential as groups of neurons of the brain. Our projections, so clearly isolated by the processes of art, allow us to visualise, indeed, activate our peregrinations across psychic, urban, and virtual domains.
Some of these interwoven ideas are explored in Celina Jeffery’s essay:
“Internet Art: Global and Local Heterotopia.” Using Foucault’s heterotopia and Global and Local Art Histories xxii the ambiguities of this space, the author explores the psychogeography of networked and new media art that allow global and local conceptual categories to merge into richly polysemic and multivalent relations. With other key concepts: the Situationists’ deriv and dtournment, for example, Jeffery directs this streams of consciousness toward virtual reality and representation, not as fantasy but as lived experience. Jeffery discusses the work of Peter Horvath, Thomson and Craighead and Peter Crawford, which in different ways activate the mental wandering of the user-viewer-artist through the non-site of the Internet and its images. This psychogeography between the global and local is traversed by the heterotopia of online browsing and mental projection, retracing the wandering at the heart of the Situationists conception of the city. The interactive power of net art is a kind of exploration of the richly polysemic space where concepts of the global and local merge and interact. As the author states: “On a fundamental level, these examples of Internet art practice form a richly heterotopic space where the global and local transact.” Others in this volume have used the non-site specific global and local morphing that occurs with the Internet to discuss ideas of anomie, freedom and mobility. In “Raqs Media Collective: Nomadism in Art Practice” Elena Bernadini analyses Raqs, a new media group of artists who are globally aware and locally grounded. Bernadini uses several key discursive figures, nomadism, the imposter, the refugee, the struggle over competing sign systems, belonging, contestations over land and human rights, and translocality to question identity in the grand interplay between local and global movements. Raqs is a media collective which uses the non-place of the Internet and installations to voice the contemporary non-place of the contemporary urban space, diaspora, and migration and the marginalisation of an underclass of homeless populations. As such, it presents us with fresh perspectives on the local, stretching out to and affecting the global in ways that allow us to reposition ourselves. In selfreflexive ways, these images and installations remind us of these conflicts, ruptures and contradictions which sometimes fall by the wayside in the dialectics of postcolonial theory.
Like other artworks discussed by authors in this volume, Raqs’s new media art appears as a significant deconstruction in artistic practice and representation of the centre/periphery, traditional/ modern and place/non-place of global local binary constructs. Bernadini provides a view of the global and local activated by Internet art; a new, negotiated conceptual and cultural space, where these terms are, in the words of the author “inevitably ‘enmeshed’ with one another. Raqs’s practice speaks of both mobility across, between locations and locatedness without setting one against the other, or privileging one above the other. That is why the idea of ‘nomadism,’ at least a certain definition of it, provides us with more enabling ways to discuss Raqs and their understanding of the geographies
Introduction xxiiiof the present than a strict dichotomy between the local and the global. It helps us navigating the slippage constantly at work between a local and global dimension, the complexities which the two carry with themselves.” The works of the Raqs Media Collective activate postcolonial theory as a nomadism of concepts and a rethinking of binaries but there is much that they challenge in terms of showing disjunctures in the local and the global, especially when their subjects are victims of the postcolonial condition. One 5-by-6-foot work by Raqs combines text with color photos of airport terminals. The graphic elements may be viewed behind chicken-wire fencing. The text narrates an encounter with a person who is trapped, living in an airport transit lounge without legal status for entry. On another wall, two 4-foot-square transparencies contain text and images from newspapers and are backlit by glaring strip lighting. These are excerpts from pages showing missing person searches, name-change announcements and other indications of transitory identities and erasure.
Continuing with themes of virtual reality and communities as an opportunity to redraw the map of the global and local, Diana Heise’s “Can I be Slovene too?” focuses on a collective, the Neue Slowenische Kunst “based” in Slovenia, which has developed an Internet-based project in which they have created a virtual country that, as the author explains “only physically manifests as bureaucratic tokens of embassies and municipalities such as stamps, passports and posters” both in order to parody the modern nation state as a physical location and the totalising regimes of truth that support these ideological constructs. Heise goes on to explore how the notion of nomadism and nationalism, identity and being are challenged and conceptually enriched by the space of the Internet. She explains “I wanted to see the physical attributes of this country interested in the new virtual territory made possible by technology.
I found that museums throughout Slovenia had begun to respond to the changes by developing highly detailed accounts of local histories and multimedia experiences to illuminate particular crafts, industries, arts and narratives of each town and village.” She goes on to ask, “Heidegger posits in his essay Building Dwelling Thinking that an individual's idea of themselves derives from the built space in which they live. But how does the virtually built space of the Internet affect these ideas? As products and information are shipped from all corners of the globe, how can we re-connect with our local surroundings?” These questions are especially crucial in Central and Southern Europe, where a map of global and local relations is still being negotiated against the backdrop of ethnic cleansing, war, and the truth of untold crimes that has yet to surface.