Ibraaz Platform 010 | Where to Now?
Ibraaz Platform 010, which marks our fifth year in production, will launch in May 2016. It will consider the following question: what can the regional politics of cultural production across North Africa and the Middle East tell us about the politics of global cultural production today? An integral element in this consideration concerns an attendant and all too imminent enquiry: what are the most urgent issues affecting cultural institutions and practices across the region, and beyond?
Underwriting these enquiries are broader concerns: What has happened to visual culture – its reception, dissemination and management – in the aftermath of global financial upheaval, regional conflict, civil war, and revolution? Has culture, in these contexts, become increasingly sidelined or, conversely, all the more instrumentalized by political and economic forces? Moreover, how valid are claims of relevance based on art's increasingly overt engagement with sociopolitical and historical realities? Finally, if cultural production has become complicit in the accumulation of capital – be it cultural, private, economic, or social – as a result of neoliberalism, global forms of gentrification, and the relative absence of state and private funding, how might we explore the potential for productive cultural alliances that can effectively address these concerns? In sum, where do we go from here?
Further questions for consideration:
1. What have we learned about the politics of global cultural production through the regional circumstances of the Middle East and North Africa in the past five years?
2. What is the future for cultural activism in a region beset by rapidly shifting politics?
3. How do we rethink the efficacy and function of cultural institutions? What does an alliance of cultural producers look like? What models exist for such entities to come into being?
4. The precarious nature of global labour seems to be a structural necessity for elements of the art world to continue to develop. How does this issue affect cultural production not only in the Middle East and North Africa, but globally?
5. What is the state of knowledge production in visual culture today and how might we review its function?
6. What is the future of arts education across the region? Is there an argument for a regionally defined curriculum for pedagogical purposes?
7. Is there a neutral position for critique? How do we rethink the commercialization and institutionalization of cultural production while critiquing our own complicity in this process?
8. How has visual culture's relationship to soft power developed since 2011? What does the term 'transparency' mean in these debates?
9. What arguments are there for and against regionally or nationally specific exhibitions? Furthermore, does curatorial language continue to reify neo-colonizing systems and structures with regards to cultural production from the region, and/or contribute to cultural dilution?
10. How might we further encourage relationships between globalized and localised art communities in and around the region?
11. In terms of funding, infrastructure, influence and expertise, what approaches, histories and methodologies define the cultural landscape of the Middle East and North Africa today, and what does this say about the future of cultural production and dissemination in and around the region?
Accompanied by an international conference, a selection of contributions to Platform 010 will be published in early 2018 in volume 05 of our Visual Culture Series.