The Dark Knight Returns - Neomedieval Art After Britain
by Prof Neil Mulholland on Feb 06, 2010
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Presentation for CAA 2010 Conference in Chicago ...
Presentation for CAA 2010 Conference in Chicago
Historians of British Art British Art: Survey and Field in the Context of Glocalization
Chair: Colette Crossman, independent scholar, Arlington, Virginia
The recent three-volume History of British Art published by the Yale Center for British Art and Tate Britain invites reflection on how art historical surveys situate British art in political, economic, social, and cultural processes that affirm, vex, and otherwise relate “glocally,” integrating global, regional, and local contexts. What is “glocal” in the
historiography, narratives, and methodologies of British art surveys and the ways they lend coherence to a field, blur its boundaries, or position its subject in the mainstream or margins of art history? How
do they treat subjects and subjectivities—citizen, immigrant, emigrant, diasporian, tourist—that bridge local and global through lineage, heritage, memory, and travel? To what effects do they distinguish what is non-British or serve readers outside Britain? In what ways do British
art surveys or British art in world art surveys advance nonart glocal political, economic, or social relationships?
Neomedieval Art after Britain
Neil Mulholland, Edinburgh College of Art
Discourses of “British art” are suspended in a geopolitical vacuum that is blind to constitutional changes that have taken place in the United Kingdom since the fin de siècle devolution settlements. These discourses share the common fallacy of assuming that “Britain”—as a
euphemism for a state and as a cultural imaginary—continues to exist as locus of meaningful cultural debate. In fact, since the mid-1960s, the
Keynesian bureaucracy designed to promote the imaginaries of British art has been gradually dismantled, replaced by new European, national,
regional, and transurban cultural technocracies. This is a symptom of neomedievalism—overlapping microgeographies supplanting unilateral
colonial narratives such as “Britishness.” To understand and envisage the cultural implications of the “Balkanization of Britain,” this paper
critically compares the 2009 Venice Pavilions of Britain, Scotland, Wales, Ulster, and the English Regions, foregrounding a neomedieval
self-reflectiveness as the basis of a post-British alterity.
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