Wednesday, May 8, 2013

China and India, trade ties and art

Based on research that art scholar-curator Biljana Ciric has been conducting since 2007, she has recently been curating a series of exhibitions that attempts to open up much-needed discussion in China around Southeast Asian contemporary art practice, creating a greater awareness of the fact that these regions and countries share much history but know little about one another today. Other case-study exhibitions related to the region that have been curated since 2008 have not proved influential insofar as none of the art institutions in China has developed any interest in initiating new research or orienting collections towards the region as a result.

Power game and power of art
According to the renowned curator based in Shanghai (Essay courtesy:, China’s contemporary art world is certainly busy dealing with its own issues and conditions, which range from commercialization to institutionalization, but also focuses much of its attention outwards on museums and galleries in the United States and Europe. A similar situation pertains throughout the region, as communication with Western nations appears more dynamic and frequent than it does with closer neighbors. This power game will undoubtedly become more complex after 2015, when members of ASEAN will integrate their economies. Southeast Asian countries will thereby join the political and economic game of the region as a whole, and begin interacting globally at a similar level to China and India.
Art scene in China
While we are waiting for this to happen—and hoping that regional exhibitions will find a way to reassert their contribution to global and local scenes—art museums in China continue to grow like mushrooms. But while beautiful on the outside, these emergent institution tend to be cold and empty within, often hosting touring exhibitions, drawn from European and American museum collections, that read more as projections of empire then manifestations of intellectual exchange.
Globalized world and art awareness
Meanwhile, individual beliefs, commitments, and relationships are slowly helping to clarify the degree to which our knowledge of art in a so-called globalized world remains fragmented. The parallel existence of different contemporaneties acts as a reminder that knowledge is—or should be—dynamic. Individual commitments that produce local knowledge as a contribution to global culture reflect the importance of artists’ subjective approaches and the values that are instituted as a result of their practice.

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