Week 7 Introduction to Postmodernism: Globalisation and Art


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  • The purpose of this lecture is to offer a wider perspective upon significant changes taking place during the period we’ve studied
  • The meaning is not always clear it has something to do with the idea that we all live in one world, in what ways exactly?We generally accept that globalisation exists, since evidently the world has become financially and materially interdependent.Two major issues of globalisation are: communication as the driving force of social change, and an increasing dependence on mobility.The most important factors to affect contemporary art have been cultural and economic globalisation. Increasingly, international art exhibitions draw their contents from all over the world, and artists address a wide range of subjects relating to this developing situation. And this term Globalisation is the name given to the new integrated world economy, where money, products and people all move between countries faster than ever before. It is an economic system so complicated that it is almost unaccountable. So this lecture will evaluate some of the significant shifts that are taking place in, and as a result of, the growth in the contemporary globalised art economy.I will also deal with a few of the difficulties that appear in the course of the globalisation process and look at the accompanying discussions surrounding increasingly global cultural spaces as they concern artistic practice and by extension the cultural industries.I will consider the idea that the art world knows no synthetic boundaries; that it realises an actually existing globalisation and that art is the vehicle for the mixing of cultures that challenge the conventional in aesthetics and the hegemonic, or dominance in politics.
  • So what is globalisation?I thought it would be a good idea to begin with this description of the process of globalisation by Anthony Giddens, who is one of the main proponents of globalisation debates,This quote is taken from his 1998 book The Third Way. The concept of globalisation is one of the most discussed subjects, not only in art but in political, economical and academic debates, and refers to the worldwide diffusion of practices, expansion of relations across continents, organisation of social life on a global scale, and grown of a shared global consciousness. Globalisation is not just expansion of capitalism and opening of financial markets round the world. The economical part of globalisation is surely important and perhaps the easiest to notice, but according to Giddens globalisation is concerned with the organization and transformation of time and space in our lives.(See Giddens, Anthony. The Third Way - The Renewal of Social Democracy. Cornwall: Polity Press, 1998)Globalisation is a key theory that has emerged since the collapse of the Eastern Block. Most recently, the world wide growth in 'Biennials' has provided the most obvious evidence of the radical changes which have been taking place in the global economies of contemporary art practice. In the past 15 years or so we have seen biennales springing up in for example Istanbul and Johannesburg. So the “international” is no longer what the traditional art centres can aspire to, but equally available to every culture in the world.Alongside this imposing phenomenon of globalisation we have also saw the rise of nationalisms and claims to specific cultural identity. Questions of identity and identification have frequently been raised since the fall of the Berlin Wall, in reaction to the collapse of the old hierarchies and the ideologies of the past.
  • More generally, globalisation raises a number of pertinent questions tied up with financial economies and consumerism.Who makes the things we buy? Where do they do it? And who takes the financial decisions that affect our jobs, housing and public services? The media often struggles to explain relationships that are so removed from the consumer. How can we ensure that no child labour is used in the goods we buy, for instance, when our branded products pass through a whole series of outsourced companies? And why is it that war and natural disaster now offer yet more opportunities for hyper capitalism?
  • Views on modernism, postmodernism and globalization Modernism is a way of thinking in which society is based on rational knowledge. Other important issues of modernism are aesthetic self-consciousness, and the demise of the centred subject. Postmodernism is seen as way of thinking contrasting modernism. From that perspective there is no universal truth. Hence, the world is socially constructed. Modernism can be seen as a cultural movement regarding fields of art and architecture, music and literature emerging in the decades before 1914, as artists rebelled against late 19th century traditions. In relation to this, postmodernism can be seen as a wide set of developments in critical theory, philosophy, architecture, art, literature, and culture, which are generally characterized as either emerging from or in reaction to the cultural movement of modernism. Both of these terms are hard to define, because of their ambivalent history and plurality of related opinions.The modern movement emerged in the late 19th century, and was rooted in the ideathat ‘traditional’ forms of social organization, art, literature and daily life had become outdated, and that it was therefore essential to reinvent culture. It encouraged the idea of re- examination of every aspect of existence. The power of science, rationality and industry promised to transform the world for the better. Modernism can be seen as a way of ordering the social world and making decisions based on a rationale, a calculability and an adherence to the rules of expert knowledge1. It is an attempt to establish the scope and the limits of the faculties of reason, knowledge and judgement. The emancipatory project of enlightenment reasoning was to lead to certain and universal truths. A universal truth for all people at all times. This would lay the foundations for humanities progress2.
  • Postmodernism is a worldview that emphasizes the existence of different worldviews and concepts of reality, rather than one ‘correct’ or ‘true’ one. Whereas modernism emphasized a trust in the empirical scientific method,and a distrust and lack of faith in ideologies and religious beliefs that could not be tested using scientific methods, postmodernism emphasizes that a particular reality is a social construction by a specific group, community or class of persons. Postmodernism accepts that reality is fragmented and that personal identity is an unstable quantity transmitted by a variety of cultural factors.The main feature ascribed to postmodernism is the permanent and irreducible pluralism of cultures, communal traditions, ideologies, or awareness and recognition of this pluralism. Things which are plural in the postmodern world cannot be arranged in an evolutionary sequence, or be seen as each other's inferior or superior stages. Neither can they be classified as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ solutions to common problems. No knowledge can be assessed outside the context of the culture, tradition, language, et cetera which makes it possible and endows it with meaning. Hence no criteria of validation are available which could be themselves justified ‘out of context’. Without universal standards, the problem of the postmodern world is not how to globalize superior culture, but how to secure communication and mutual understanding between cultures. Postmodernism claims that there are no universal philosophical foundations for human thought or action and all truth is culture bound. Truth can only be a degree of social agreement from within a particular tradition. There are no longer any universal terms of reference for people to make sense of their lives.Postmodernism, in rejecting grand narratives, favours ‘mini-narratives’, stories that explain small practices, local events, rather than large-scale universal or global concepts. Postmodern mini-narratives are always situational, provisional, contingent, and temporary, making no claim to universality, truth, reason, or stability
  • technological ageMany people find themselves confronted with captivating, seductive, and expansive options that allow people readily to exchange one identity for another, such as Internet chat rooms. That people relish the freedom to explore new technologically-generated options and alternative personal identitiescomplex relationships among decentered selfhood, modern technology, and the possibility of authenticity
  • Globalisation is often employed to connote the character of advanced capitalism – it has become synonymous with Americanisation/Westernisation/Imperialism which highlights the dominance, still, of European and Western interest throughout the world. To many living outside Europe and North America it is deemed as Westernisation or Americanisation since most of the visible cultural expressions of globalisation are American e.g. Coca-cola, McDonalds. It can be viewed as something that the developing countries play little or no part in. It can be considered as destroying local cultures, widening world inequalities.These associations of the term with cultural and economic neo-imperialism spawned, particularly in the course of the 1990s, an ‘anti-globalization’ movement – or more precisely, some sort of alignment of various interest groups against the globalizing establishment.
  • Some of the main characteristics of globalisation include:New Communication TechnologiesHigher speed of informationGreater distribution of informationMultinational CorporationsIncreased International tradeIncreased flows of money across national boarders.(Increased ease of travel!)
  • Along side issues related to globalisation national identity can be seen to underpin the ideas and the work of many artists since the end of the 1980’s and more so has been a major influence on curators. Recently the 2006 British Art Show 6 curators also debated the impact of issues of NATIONALITY AND INTERNATIONALISM. “Exhibitions delimited by nationality, continents and other geographical demarcations have been subject to vigorous critique over the last few years, for many of the right reasons. In a cosmopolitan art world, in which artists travel to make work and take part in exhibitions, the fact an artist is British, Brazilian or Chinese is of diminishing significance. To compare artists from the perspective of their geographical origins is often to emphasise the most superficial aspects of their practice. The approach is fraught with the perils of reductiveness and stereotyping.”(FARQUHARSON, ALEX and Andreas Schlieker, British Art Show 6, 2005, P12)
  • The "biennale culture" now determines much of the art world. Literature on the worldwide dissemination of art assumes nationalism and ethnic identity, but rarely analyzes it.In our era of biennales and international galleries, contemporary art compels both a new, wider analysis as well as a rethinking of basic forms and definitions. It is generally regarded that globalization is a homogenizing, universalizing model which absorbs cultural differences and therefore ultimately rejects them. This raised the question of whether ‘locality’ retains any significance
  • The men in 'Work in Progress' are wearing either Inter Milan or AC Milan football team shirts. The type of portrait is familiar from football publicity photographs, where the players stare ahead with their arms held behind their backs. However, instead of being Italian sportsmen, the players are from amateur five-a-side Glasgow teams. Their separation into two sets alludes to the need of individuals to lend themselves a separate identity, while at the same time maintaining common bonds of knowledge and agreed opinion. The implied rivalry echoes the competition between the two Glasgow football teams, Rangers and Celtic.
  • On another occasion he paid heroin adicts the price of a fix to line up in a row and then permit a continuous line to be tattooed across their backs.This is a new kind of politically-engaged art. True, Sierra is part of the tradition of Conceptual artists going back to the sixties, who condemn art’s unavoidable involvement with capitalism, now taking the form of globalisation.
  • “Seen from the point of view of the art-world as a system [artworks] appear as the component parts of a uniform machine, which produces a large range of novel combinations that are tested against various publics for marketable meaning.” (Stallabrass 2004, p.151)
  • “The real story of the art world in the 1990s lies in how it subtly embraced and then reversed this trend toward hypercommodification by using the machinations of ‘marketing’ to shift the focus of art patronage away from the artist and back toward the institution... [The] 1990s did not show its unique aesthetic hand in the emergence of any identifiable period style in the visual arts; rather, it did so with a building boom in stylish museum buildings and a concomitant proliferation of international biennial exhibitions.”
  • There remains a legacy of European Imperialism - that has existed since the Renaissance – that defined the west as ‘civilized’ and non-western peoples as ‘primitive
  • Legacy of Eurocentric standardsWatch documentary on line that traces the rise of both Asian and Western civilization in one global perspective
  • Week 7 Introduction to Postmodernism: Globalisation and Art

    1. 1. Postmodernism inArt:An IntroductionGlobalisationand ArtMark LombardiGlobal Networks(1994)
    2. 2. The concept of globalisation isone of the most discussedsubjects, not only in art but inpolitical, economical andacademic debates, and refers tothe worldwide diffusion ofpractices, expansion of relationsacross continents, organisationof social life on a global scale,and grown of a shared globalconsciousness.See Giddens, Anthony. The Third Way -The Renewal of Social Democracy.Cornwall: Polity Press, 1998
    3. 3. The Invisible(2008)
    4. 4. Views on modernism, postmodernism and globalization Modernism is a way of thinking in which society is based on rational knowledge. Other important issues of modernism are aesthetic self- consciousness, and the demise of the centred subject. Postmodernism is seen as way of thinking contrasting modernism. From that perspective there is no universal truth. Hence, the world is socially constructed. YinkaShonibare Fake Death Picture (The Suicide - Manet) (2011)
    5. 5. Postmodernism accepts that reality is fragmented and thatpersonal identity is an unstable quantity transmitted by a variety of cultural factorsPostmodern:Parts comprise thewholeModernism:The whole is moreimportant than theparts Douglas Gordon Divided Self I and II (1996)
    6. 6. Technological ageComplex relationships amongde-centered selfhood, moderntechnology, and the possibility ofauthenticity.
    7. 7. Cooperation or CorporationGlobalisation is often employed to connote the character of advanced capitalism
    8. 8. Globalisation Insertions Into Ideological CircuitsSome of the main by Brazilian artistcharacteristics of CildoMeirelesglobalisation include:•New communicationtechnologies (higher speed ofinformation, greaterdistribution of information) In the 1970s, Meireles carried out•Multinational corporations projects where he inscribed(increased international subversive messages such as “Yankeestrade, increased flows of Go Home” onto Coca-Cola bottles,money, commodities, and banknotes and subway tokens, andpeople across national then re-introduced these intoborders) circulation
    9. 9. Globalisation•A contradictory and uneven process•Pulls away from local communities and nation-states•Pushes down on those same communities andnation-states•Local communities beliefs and cultural valuesmay be globalised and universalised•Individuals and groups may experience thisuniversalisation as a dilution and corruptionof their cultural beliefs•Resistance to this process, sometimes withviolence, rise of fundamentalism, nationalismand terrorism could be seen as a response tothis
    10. 10. “Exhibitions delimited by nationality,continents and other geographicaldemarcations have been subject tovigorous critique over the last few years,for many of the right reasons. In acosmopolitan art world, in which artiststravel to make work and take part inexhibitions, the fact an artist is British,Brazilian or Chinese is of diminishingsignificance. To compare artists from theperspective of their geographical originsis often to emphasise the mostsuperficial aspects of their practice. Theapproach is fraught with the perils ofreductiveness and stereotyping.” Hew Locke(FARQUHARSON, ALEX and Andreas Schlieker, Black QueenBritish Art Show 6, 2005, P12) (2004)
    11. 11. The Rise and Rise of the Biennale
    12. 12. Roderick BuchananWork in Progress(1995)
    13. 13. Santiago Sierra, ‘Wall enclosing a Space’, Spanish pavilion, Venice Biennial, 2003
    14. 14. Santiago Sierra, ‘250cm line tattooed on six paid people’ (1999)
    15. 15. Artists concerned variously with visualising the transnational mobility of capital, goods and people in today’s global networksWorld-Airport, an installation by Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn. Exhibitedat the 1999 Venice Biennale, World-Airport which filled the entire galleryspace. It was a homemade, Fisher-Price like airport and lounge area, repletewith a runway come parade of nation-states as airplanes emblazoned withlogos in national colourssit prepared for take-off - The weather, the war-,business, pleasure- first class, third world - flight patterns and the flow ofinformation have reduced the world to a ball of string with all its crises,crosses and contradictions - a global Diaspora of businessmen, terroristsand tourists.
    16. 16. Site andKadirAttiaDream Machine space(2002-2003) Francis Alÿs Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic, The Green Line 2004-05
    17. 17. The Return of the Grand Tour YinkaShonibare Gallantry and Criminal Conversation (2002) References the ‘Grand tours’, country outings of noblemen in the 18th centuryIn many ways we are wadding into familiar territory with discussionsof biennales; these global mega-shows that attempt to gather all theworld’s art together in one place at one time
    18. 18. The role of biennials in the globalisation of the art market“Visitors go to Venice, Kassel orSao Paulo expecting shows toadvance a considered andprogressive model of globalisationin the cultural sphere, only to findthat biennials are manifestations ofa different kind of globalisation,one that is driven not so much byecumenical curatorial designs as byexisting mechanisms ofcentralisation and dissemination.”Marcus Verhagen, Biennale Inc, ArtMonthly, June 05
    19. 19. Global/Intern ational style?“Biennials produce press releases and catalogues that constantly recycle thesame buzzwords, ‘exchange’, ‘dialogue’ and ‘hybridity’ among them. Whatthey don’t say is that in the profusion of the biennial these terms becomealmost meaningless. In Venice, diversity comes across as dispersal, asflattening out.”Marcus Verhagen, Biennale Inc, Art Monthly, June 05
    20. 20. Art inc.“Seen from the point of viewof the art-world as a system[artworks] appear as thecomponent parts of auniform machine, whichproduces a large range ofnovel combinations that aretested against various publicsfor marketable meaning.”(Stallabrass 2004, p.151)
    21. 21. So what is globalisation?A process in which geographic distance becomes a factorof diminishing importance in the establishment andmaintenance of cross border economic, political andsocio-cultural relations. Rudd LubbersA decoupling of space and time, emphasising that withinstantaneous communications, knowledge and culturecan be shared around the world simultaneously. Anthony Giddens
    22. 22. Globalization and Art“The real story of the art world in the 1990s lies in how itsubtly embraced and then reversed this trend towardhypercommodification by using the machinations of‘marketing’ to shift the focus of art patronage away from theartist and back toward the institution... [The] 1990s did notshow its unique aesthetic hand in the emergence of anyidentifiable period style in the visual arts; rather, it did sowith a building boom in stylish museum buildings and aconcomitant proliferation of international biennialexhibitions.” (Van Proyen, Mark 2006)
    23. 23. Predatory Globalization? Globalisation isn’t a new phenomenon: • Christianity • CommunismVanessa Beecroft Alexander RodchenkoVB SS South Sudan(2006)
    24. 24. The Origins of Globalisation and the impact on artists There is a long history of artists ‘borrowing’, appropriating and stealing inspiration, source material and imagery from other cultures. This tended to be a one-way street (i.e. Europe ‘borrowed’ from ‘exotic’ cultures) rather than true cross-cultural fertilisation.
    25. 25. Curating the exotic“All this may make global culture more readily available to theembrace of multicultural aesthetics or a meticulous archivalstudy. But the angle of visibility will not change. What wasonce exotic or archaic, tribal or folkloristic, inspired by strangegods, is now given a secular national presence and ainternational future. Sites of cultural difference too easilybecome part of the globalising West’s thirst for its ownethnicity; for citation and simulacral echoes from Elsewhere.”Bhabha, H. 1997. Minority Culture and Creative Anxiety. From BritishCouncil 2003 Reinventing Britain.
    26. 26. Oceanic Display Picasso in his studio, Detail: New Caledonial(detail), Trocadero 1908. Note New roof fiial figure fromMuseum, Paris, 1895 Caledonian Picasso’s collection and (Melanesia) figures Picasso’s Portrait of behind him Henry Kahnweiler (detail), 1910
    27. 27. Picasso, Sitting Nude, 19 Picasso, Mask from Baule in Ivory Coast Sitting Nude, 1908 Mask from Baule in Ivory Coast
    28. 28. Legacy of Eurocentric standardsThere remains a legacy of European Imperialism - that has existedsince the Renaissance – that defined the west as ‘civilized’ and non-western peoples as ‘primitive’
    29. 29. Legacy of Eurocentric standardsCultural Borrowing in World of Legacy: The Origins ofWarcraft CivilizationThe visual iconography of the horderaces suggests real-world cultures http://topdocumentaryfilms.co(e.g. totems, tents, face paint), and m/legacy-the-origins-of-the horde in general are portrayed as civilization/"primitive."
    30. 30. A global subway Martin Kippenberger Metronet
    31. 31. Virtual selves, real persons “The virtual self is connected to the world by information technologies that invade not only the home and the office but the psyche. This can either trap or liberate people…By virtual self, I am referring to the person connected to the world and to others through electronic means such as the internet, television and cell phones…[These] technologies get inside our heads, position our bodies and dictate our everyday lives.” Agger2004
    32. 32. Identity andSelf in VirtualWorlds
    33. 33. The instant pleasure principleMaurizio Cattelan
    34. 34. ReferencesJames Elkins (Author, Editor), ZhivkaValiavicharska (Editor), AliceKim (Editor) Art and Globalization (Stone Art Theory InstitutesBaudrillard, J. (1994), Simulacra and Simulation, trans. S, Glaser,Michigan: The University of Michigan PressGlobalisation is Good - Johan Norberg on Globalizationhttp://youtu.be/12YDLZq8rT4Best, S. (2005), ‘The Postmodern experience’. Website:http://www.sociology.org.uk/atssspl2.htmFulcher, J (2004) A very short introduction: Capitalism. Oxford, OxfordUniversity Press.
    35. 35. ReferencesGiddens, A (1999) Runaway World. London, Profile Books Ltd.Stallabrass, J (2004) Art Incorporated. Oxford, Oxford University Press.Steger, M (2003) A very short introduction: Globalization. Oxford, OxfordUniversity Press.Scholte, Jan Aart (2005) Globalization: A Critical Introduction. PalgraveMacMillan, Hampshire.Van Proyen, Mark (2006) Contemporary Art and the AdministrativeSublime. In Art Criticism 21 no 2. pp. 25-56, 162-71.Giddens, Anthony. The Third Way - The Renewal of Social Democracy.Cornwall: Polity Press, 1998