Our magazine in close collaboration with LISTE Art Fair, as part of our media partnership on a regular basis, begins a new column in response to the social, political and economic situations, occurring globally, the dimensions that begin to take and the way that all these affect contemporary art and art world. For 3-4 times every month, we are putting questions and concerns to influential people in the art world, setting a discussion, bridging the thoughts, worries, concerns and searches of all of us for the present and the future.
As a reference point the rise of neo-conservatism and the sneaky way that are violated and restricted individual and social freedoms globally, which are the result of hard struggles of the past, we put our relevant question. In the Part IV, we have Answers from: Andrew Rogers (Australian Land Artist) and Yvette Mutumba (Curator & Founder of Contemporary And (C&).
By Efi Michalarou & Dimitris Lempesis
One of the biggest problems of our time is Migration. In the late ‘90s Globalization, Cultural Diversity and the Intersection of Ideas, have been issues discussed with great enthusiasm in the art world, supporting and highlighting artists from the so-called periphery of the globe. Today, if we redefine and bring back up the same issues, what means Globalization, Cultural Diversity and Intersection of Ideas nowadays? How are projects conceived and determined by the artists and the art world compared to the past?
Andrew Rogers* (Australian Land Artist): Since 1998 I have explored cultural diversity and the global intersection of ideas and peoples through my ongoing project Rhythms of Life, the world’s largest contemporary land art project. Across disparate locations spanning 16 countries and 7 continents – including remote deserts, fjords, gorges, altiplano, mountain valleys and a frozen lake – I have collaborated with over 7,500 people to create 51 structures that together form a connected set of drawings visible from space. These geoglyphs – or stone sculptures – address globalization and our shared humanity. Using basic elements of rocks and earth, tools used to shape our world for a millennia, I work with communities to create symbols reflexive of both local histories and our shared global reality. There is synergy between our symbology: we are all the same but different. This project establishes consecrated spaces by creating structures that denote a separation from the ordinary, speculate about our shared histories, and enter the domain of myth making. These ‘ruins’ act as catalysts for reflection, providing a much needed response to the continual flux and turmoil of today. The project also marks the first use of satellites to capture a connected set of contemporary sculptured structures across the Earth. Evident in satellite imagery from as high as 500-800 kilometres (310-500 miles) above the Earth’s surface –these images reinforce that no matter how large people’s endeavours are, they amount to only a speck in space. Created to last over 100 years, while erosion and human activity will take a toll, these structures will act as traces of and monuments to the cultures that imagined them. Their forms link us to the past – from Neolithic structures such as Stonehenge to the Nazca lines in Peru – as well as to the future. They – and we – occupy only a moment in time. We define our existences with the interplay of space and time. We live in a world where technology is constantly advancing but people are staying where they were. Our roots are in ancient civilisations and cultures whose legacy we carry around with us and which will continue into the future.
Yvette Mutumba (Curator & Founder of Contemporary And (C&): To be honest, to me the causes of Migration are the biggest problem of our time, not Migration itself. Looking back at the late 1990s, yes, there have been discussions around diversity in the arts. To speak of great enthusiasm in the art world (which here supposedly means „the Euro-US-American art world“) supporting the so-called periphery is, in my opinion, exaggerated. Exhibitions engaging with what was at the time also defined as “new internationalism” seemed like progress. However, this “new internationalism” was far from being a matter of consensus. It often remained connected with an ethnocentric, hegemonic North American and European perspective on global culture due to political, military and economic affiliations. Indeed an increasing „de-centralization“ of the international art scene became more and more relevant, reflected by the rise of art events such as Dak’Art, São Paulo Biennial, Gwangju Biennial or Sharjah Biennial ever since. The phenomenon of a global art scene has been and still is the topic of numerous international debates, panels and essays. But as a result one gets the impression that it is less about what is going to happen next in terms of contemporary art, but rather what is happening elsewhere. The notion ‘elsewhere’ refers to the marginalised parts of the world from the viewpoint of European-North-American art practioners. Today the “globality” of an exhibition topic, artist list or collection often seems to be the main critical quality criterion. An understanding of art as global is without doubt a very positive development. But let’s go beyond the tendency of capitalizing on a “global art quota”. Let’s normalize the fact that artists everywhere in the world produce as much good artwork as bad artwork. Let’s start looking at those works for their artistic quality, considering their geographical contexts as just one aspect of many.
*Andrew Rogers will present a collateral exhibition to the Venice Biennale at the garden courtyard of Palazzo Mora. “We are” is comprised of 8 large bronze and stainless steel sculptures. The works act as a metaphor for the dichotomy of human nature, with the rough, organic outer surfaces representing our physical selves while the delicate, polished interiors reflect the internal and personal world of our thoughts.
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