Book presentation January 19, Rijksakademie Amsterdam
Report by Madelon van Schie
Book presentation Making Art Global, roundtable discussion with Annie Fletcher, Rachel Weiss, Direlia Lazo and Gerardo Mosquera.
The book presentation of Making Art Global (Part 1): The Third Havana Biennial 1989, with contributions by Rachel Weiss, Luis Camnitzer, Coco Fusco and Geeta Kapur ao, formed part of the program Temporary Stedelijk 3-Stedelijk@Rijksakademie and was organized in collaboration with publisher Afterall Books. Introduced by Annie Fletcher, editor Rachel Weiss and curator Gerardo Mosquera pointed out the groundbreaking aspects of the third Havana Biennial and clarified its context in two presentations and a roundtable discussion in which independent curator Direlia Lazo participated as well.
Art critic and curator T.J. Demos wrote the third Project ’1975′ essay ‘Poverty Pornography, Humanitarianism, and Neo-liberal Globalization: Notes on Some Paradoxes in Contemporary Art’. In reaction to Gerardo Mosquera’s former essay T.J. Demos demonstrates a less optimistic vision on globalization. He criticizes humanitarian aid that only seems to reaffirm unacceptable power structures. He starts by referring to back to Renzo Martens’ Episode III: Enjoy Poverty, a film that generated much critique and initiated SMBA’s current programming.
T.J. Demos states: “…Renzo Martens’ film, Episode III: Enjoy Poverty, set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), provides a devastating alternative optic on the brutal nature of North-South relations of inequality and the exploitative image economy that stubbornly mediates it. Despite all its risks – perpetuating stereotypes of Africans as helpless victims, reducing Congolese people to neo-colonized servants and neophytes, reproducing a pornography of poverty – Episode III bears important lessons. Among them, a reality check for optimistic globalists and a lethal blow to the ambitions of concerned documentarians, especially those that seek to ameliorate suffering by representing abjection in developing countries.”
The author furthermore rejects contemporary art practices that focus on political malaise elsewhere and do not consider their own space as a political one, not acknowledging subsequently to be actively participating in a problematic system. Alfredo Jaar’s The Sound of Silence, 2006, is also analyzed by Demos as a critical investigation of the relation between globalization’s image economy and humanitarian photojournalism. In the end Demos explains how Abderrahmane Sissako’s film Bamako (2006) “goes beyond the negative fatalism of media and artistic stereotypes that Okwui Enwezor condemns as ‘Afropessimism’.” Thus the critic sheds light on the many political implications that determine Project 1975. Download SMBA newsletter 121 to read ‘Poverty Pornography, Humanitarianism, and Neo-liberal Globalization: Notes on Some Paradoxes in Contemporary Art’.
T.J Demos is a critic and a Reader in the Department of Art History, University College London, and the co-curator of ‘Uneven Geographies: Art and Globalization’ (Nottingham Contemporary, 2010). Writing widely on modern and contemporary art, he is the author of Migrations: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Globalization (forthcoming, Duke University Press), The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp (MIT Press, 2007), and Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman (Afterall/MIT Press, 2010).
In every newsletter of the exhibitions of Project ’1975′ a guest curator or art critic writes an essay on the topic of post-colonialism in contemporary art. The second one is by Gerardo Mosquera: curator, critic and art historian based in Havana. He is Adjunct Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, and advisor at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam. He is also a member of the advisory board of several art journals. Mosquera co-founded the Havana Biennial in 1984, and has curated many international exhibitions.
Art and Cultural Interactions in a Globalised World
The relationships between contemporary art, culture and internationalisation have been silently yet dramatically transformed in the last fifteen years. We have left behind the times of art trends and manifestos. The key issue for contemporary art today is the tremendous expansion of its international circulation. There are approximately 200 biennials and other periodic artistic events in the world, only to mention one aspect in the growth of art circuits. This explosion involves a vast multiplicity of new cultural and artistic actors circulating internationally and whoe ither did not exist before or were confined to local environments. See Universes-in-Universe just to have an idea of how diverse the international art circuits are today.