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Platform 005: Globalising Tactics in Contemporary Art

Questions to be addressed

004 / 28 February 2013

Platform 005 addresses the following question:

In a globalised cultural economy, how have the demands of news media, journalism, cultural diplomacy and international market integration influenced and developed contemporary visual culture in North Africa and the Middle East?


Through this platform question, we intend to investigate the broader networks and institutional contexts within which visual culture is produced, disseminated and understood across the region and beyond. With this in mind, we want to explore how culture is instrumentalised and standardised within the demands of a globalised cultural economy and the pressures of international relations. Finally, we seek to examine the critical syntax that informs, mediates and distributes contemporary artistic practice in the region and to tackle some of the entrenched frameworks for cultural production.


Further questions for consideration:


1. To what extent has a globalised cultural economy encouraged a culture of appropriation amongst contemporary visual artists and cultural practitioners?


2. What are the political and theoretical motivations driving the use of the terms such as 'difference', 'diaspora', and 'identity', 'otherness', and 'hybridity', given that they are key motifs in discussions of global culture?


3. Have terms such as 'global' and 'local' prescribed critical and historical debates as to what exactly is meant by cultural production across the region? And, if so, has a process of unquestioning self-orientalising - under the motifs of 'difference' and 'otherness' - become embedded cultural paradigms?


4. What are the defining characteristics and motivations underwriting 'patronage', 'art journalism' and the move towards 'biennialisation'?


5. Has the political move towards a globalised economy - under the rubric of neoliberalism - inspired a politically reductive visual arts practice and discourse in the wider Middle East and North Africa?


6. To what extent has the framing devices deployed by international relations brokers and the 'soft power' favoured by cultural diplomats affected the means by which contemporary visual culture in the region is interpreted and consumed?


7. To this question, we may want to add: How has the emphasis on 'soft power' - the use of culture as a means for brokering dialogue - produced a school of curatorial practice that effectively satisfies these politically-motivated ends?


8. What are the historical and critical contexts that determine the language being used to talk about visual culture in North Africa and the Middle East?


9. Is there a canon of art criticism in the region, and if so how has it developed over the years and what is its future direction?


10. To what extent is the visual culture of the Middle East still tied to the language and culture of post-colonialism? And, if not, how has it shifted?


11. What is the role of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), embassies and cultural diplomats in the development of a localised contemporary art scene? Has this fostered a top-down hierarchy for cultural production?


12. Does the language of the market - 'emerging markets' and the commercial rhetoric of the 'new' - contribute to the curatorial framing devices currently applied to cultural production across the region?


13. What is the role of private foundations, patronage, and public institutions in supporting cultural production during a period of unrest and within the context of global cultural and political priorities?

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