Friday, March 6, 2009

another topic to write about, someday

I just got through notifying my LiveJournal readers (of whom a fair number reside in the United Kingdom) about an upcoming exhibition that reminded me of a topic I need to re-evaluate someday on Counterforces. But not today.

Here's a slightly edited extract from the joculum post:

Haunch of Venison London will celebrate its relocation from Haunch of Venison Yard to the former site of the Museum of Mankind by turning 6 Burlington Gardens into "Mythologies," an immense group show of internationally celebrated artists whose work "evoke[s] the uncanny and extraordinary, as seen in historic anthropological and archaeological collections such as the Pitt Rivers, Hunterian, Petrie, Horniman and Sir John Soane's Museums. For the exhibition Burlington Gardens will be transformed into a giant Cabinet of Curiosities."

It would be lovely to see this show, which recalls Eduardo Paolozzi's "Lost Magic Kingdoms" at the Museum of Mankind a quarter century or so back. The difference, I suspect or hope, is that now we have lost the sense of outrage at potential political incorrectness that Paolozzi's show stirred up: global migration has so hybridized our cultures that perhaps we can recapture the naive—or "second-naive"—sense of wonder, realizing that everything that we regard as ordinary is exotic to somebody else, and our silliest everyday phrases are grist for somebody else's T-shirt full of garbled foreign slogans. (I still cherish the denim jacket I saw in Berlin on which a completely nonsensical English sentence was prefaced by the all-caps declaration "SLANG:"...and as utopyr said of his sojourn in the Czech Republic, he wanted to stay long enough that he wouldn't just be exclaiming about how wonderfully strange the fire hydrants were, but would see what was really distinctive about Czech culture.)

This raises a lot of art issues dealt with in the past by Thomas McEvilley and others (beginning with the row caused by the 1984 "'Primitivism' in Twentieth Century Art" show at MoMA in New York and continuing at least through 1989's "Magiciens de la Terre" at the Centre Georges Pompidou, after which "The Decade Show" at several New York venues more or less announced, from a distinctly American perspective, the arrival of the era of artworld globalism)...all of which need to be re-evaluated in the greatly changed circumstances of 2009. We have gone through a cycle of global biennials and even more global art fairs in the wake of economic globalization, and it will be intriguing to see how all of this shakes out as the planet turns back toward the temptation of less than informed localism, alongside the promise of what one hopes will be an era of globalized financial oversight.

Art Dubai, anybody?

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