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The Global & The Arts


Discussion with the curator of the Chinese pavilion, Wang Chunchen, during the preview of the Venice Biennial: Does globalisation – which began as a merely economic development – have an impact upon the various spheres of artistic production and reception?

Curator Wang Chunchen; photo: Hu Zhiheng 2013

Do we see the beginning of a mainstreaming in art production, the emergence of a global iconography? Does this development on the other hand imply an equal participation of artists around the world in the processes and structures of the art market and raise the visibility of non-Western art? If one takes a closer look at the predominant structures of the art market, galleries or big exhibitions: still, most of the international key players are from a Western background. This becomes relevant when thinking about the (already vanishing?) “curatoriat” (John Clark), a term describing the power of selecting contemporary artworks and thus determining access and establishing international canons. Could the visibility of any non-Western art depend upon the artists ability to speak a visual language that is easily understood in a global context.

Entrance to the China Pavilion, Venice Biennial 2013

The Global and the Contemporary
Artists work in a local context while at the same time longing for international reputation. To be outstanding within the global art world one may need to take recourse to the regional culture, to the local iconography as a space of authenticity. Artworks are not global themselves, but stem from a location, travel the world and create local reactions. It should be emphasized that The Global is not a style rather it is a condition. These trends on a global scale require new approaches of being analysed, conceptualized, presented, valued – be it in academia, in art projects, in exhibitions etc.

Wang_Chunchen_Yishu2013 (pdf, download) published in Yishu. Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, September 2013

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