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Platform for discussion005

How has a globalised cultural economy affected the production of contemporary visual culture in North Africa and the Middle East?

Haroon Mirza
7 May 2013

This is a big question with a lot of big words so I can either try and break down the question and resolve some of the semantic issues with it or simplify the question and try and answer that.  Either way my response could be an essay, which I don't have time to write – so I will do my best. The main semantic issue with a question like this is what is meant by 'globalised cultural economy'. I'm specifically interested in what is assumed by the word 'culture' – the language used in discourses around art comes from social sciences and I find this increasingly to be a disease of the art world, where people think it's necessary to dress simple ideas up in complex or fluffy language. 'Culture' does not mean the 'arts' or 'creative practices'. Culture is made up of many things including religion, politics and language, as well as the arts. The phrase 'globalised cultural economy' could mean a lot of things. One interpretation could be the banking system, which would in fact make this question quite interesting.  


Another interpretation could perhaps refer to 'cultural capital' – if it's referring to the proliferation of how cultural knowledge is used as a tool to exercise power, then it would again make a very interesting question but a very different one. I'm guessing, though, that Platform 005 is actually asking whether art in the Muslim world is over-influenced by western civilisation? My answer to that would be: yes. There are a lot of interesting practices that go on in the Middle East and North Africa, which is truly derived from the rich cultural histories of those regions. But unfortunately, these are not the types of practices that gain any real recognition in 'the West' because it's too different and one can't identify with the other. The types of artists that get consumed by the west are the ones that imitate it and have a good command of the English language. People by nature are tribal and sadly, the west can only understand things communicated in their language.

Haroon Mirza

(born 1977, London) is a British artist. Mirza combines a variety of readymade and time based material to create audio compositions, which are often realised as site-specific installations. In doing so, Mirza complicates the distinctions between noise, sound and music, and alters the function and meaning of everyday objects and socio-cultural constructs. He is represented by Lisson Gallery, London.

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