Post-Abyssing the Future: Casting a Creative Post-Underdeveloped, Post-Peripheral, Tropical Eye

SESSION A: Cosmopolitism
Day 1. Thursday, 27th October.
12:00 – 14:00
Venue: CCCB: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

Driven by the flow of global capital the much cited ‘global turn’ in contemporary art has expanded art markets and introduced a degree of geographic decentering, allowing for new connectivities. The challenge now is to harness the potentiality offered by this new proximity to progress the incomplete project of decolonisation and to generate a future of positive difference. I argue that while artists are responding to this scenario and are developing creative strategies to address these challenges, art’s writerly ‘other’ is lagging behind and that this generates a mismatch between new aesthetic departures and the staid models of creating meaning employed in disseminating these projects. I propose that a greater and creative co-implication of art and art writing constitutes as key, untapped
dimension for engendering the positive potentialities the global harbours. I also argue that this offers a response to present day multi-directional transnational linkages that exceed existing narratives of art and push up against the Eurocentric Cartesian dualisms of objective and subjective, fact and fiction, the verbal-textual and the visual-aesthetic.

Yet such de Sousa Santosian post-abyssal perspectives can neither be generic nor prescriptive and principally respond creatively to given scenarios in an explorative and open-ended manner that resists replacing old certainties with new ‘fixes’. My presentation therefore offers but one possible creative response to my chosen bone of contention: the absence of the indigenous voice in the global contemporary which I argue is central to a positive futuring of the present artistic moment. This is strategically explored through the figure of a fictitious artist who curates an imagined exhibition
which engages with visual practices generally considered the realm of anthropology. The catalogue for this exhibition serves as explorative terrain for an evocative meeting of art and art writing, the global art of biennials and indigenous arts, and the transformative extension of relational art and Deleuze Guattarean aesthetics into the sphere of art and
anthropology. More specifically the discussion will be focused in terms of a reading of the work of the artist Rirkrit Tiravanija through the lens of Amazon conceptions of the convivial and of Deleuze-Guattarean aesthetics through the traditional art of Tamil house wives. The ideas presented in this paper are developed more fully in my monograph ‘Encounters beyond the Gallery. Relational Aesthetics and Cultural Difference’ that has just been published by I.B. Tauris.

Renate Dohmen
Open University

Renate Dohmen is a lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art. She is interested in questions of the global and visual culture in contemporary and colonial contexts. Her approach is interdisciplinary and encompasses art, anthropology and cultural history with a particular focus on issues of cultural encounter and cultural translation, post-coloniality and gender. She works on questions of criticality in relation to contemporary art, and questions of art and empire focused on British India.

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