This analysis of the context of the globalization of the contemporary art scene is based on the concept of the cooperative network of the art worlds, as defined by the American sociologist Howard Becker, applied to the exhibition's sociological character. It is approached as a sociocultural event furthering the establishment of a cooperative network among artists, commissioners, critics and theoreticians who acknowledge in the exhibited works a certain number of values and ideas about art which they share to various degrees. Case studies from the corpus of contemporary African-art exhibitions that have been labelled as contemporary African art on the international stage serve as illustrations for this analysis.
The confrontation between contemporary and ancient art, within the framework of temporary exhibitions or in the context of permanent collections, is not new, and examples are numerous. This article shows, through a description of a variety of temporary exhibitions organized by the British Museum, bringing together contemporary Middle Eastern and ancient Islamic art, the ideological consequences of such juxtapositions which consistently favour continuity over rift.
This article takes a contemporary look at the practice of self-portraiture by three artists from Morocco: Hicham Benohoud, Mehdi-Georges Lahlou and Zakaria Ramhani. The career trajectories of these creators illustrate the various dynamics of institutional opposition and integration mechanisms that belong to the new geographies of art, in the era of globalization. The article's goal is to investigate the manner in which individual, local and global concerns are expressed in their understanding of an imaginary projection of corporality. The works are studied through the lens of local characteristics particular to the artist's Maghreb-Muslim culture. In the first section, the artists' careers, in relation to their training and the places where they have exhibited their work, are presented in tandem with the paradoxes of globalization. It is thus specified that if the artists were trained primarily in the West or made their careers there to achieve international success, it can be attributed to a lack of support from the Moroccan artistic scene, but also to the difficult access to the international art world for artists coming from the art scenes of the Maghreb. In the second part, we postulate that the artists' self-portraits attest to the different issues related to Maghreb-Muslim culture, such as the current socio-political situation in Morocco and the Islamic ban on representation. Lastly, we maintain that these self-portraits are a wider reflection of the varied concerns that transcend the borders of the Maghreb, as the artists reflect on the meeting of the Eastern and Western worlds.
This article offers a qualitative and quantitive analysis of the critical reception of two exhibitions, Sakahàn:International Indigenous Art (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa 2013) and Beat Nation: Art, Hip-Hop and Aboriginial Culture (organised and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery, 2013-2014). The study treats articles which appeared between 2012 and 2015 in English and French visual-arts publications. The comparative analysis intends to highlight general trends, in order to identify challenges that contemporary Indigenous arts pose for art criticism. A review of the texts shows that all commentators, whether francophone or anglophone, indigenous or non-Indigenous, have welcomed these two exhibitions warmly. The discrepancy between the number of essays in French and those in English reflects the demographic weight of these two linguistic communities and the geographic distribution of First Nations in Canada. This will qualify, without denying, the hypothesis of Quebec's tardiness on the indigenous question. The authors largely recognize the necessity of initiating indigenization of the museum and emphasize the movement to internationalize contemporary indigenous art. Yet many commentators, particulary Indigenous people, dispute the efficacity of the concept of "strategic essentialism" put forward by the commissioners of the Sakahàn catalog. Despite both a real interest in these two major exhibitions and the quality of the commentary, in the end, for events of such a scale few texts have been published on the subject. The criteria for appreciation rooted in the institutional sociology of art endeavour to fully take into account the challenges posed by certain central aspects of the approach of several Indigenous creators, such as the intangible dimensions of their civic engagement, the dissolution of particular outside venues and the sisterhood of certain projects.
This article offers a critical perspective on the pedagogical direction of what I call “global art histories” in Canada by addressing the apparent impasse posed by the notion of what is euphemistically called “ethnocultural art” in this country. It examines different interpretations of the latter chiefly through a survey of course titles from art history programs in Canada and a course on the subject that I teach at Concordia University in Montreal. Generally speaking, the term “ethnocultural art” refers to what is more commonly understood as “ethnic minority arts” in the ostensibly more derisive discourses on Canadian multiculturalism and cultural diversity. The addition of the term “culture” emphasizes the voluntary self-definition involved in ethnic identification and makes the distinction with “racial minorities.” “Ethnocultural communities,” along with the moniker “cultural communities” (or “culturally diverse” communities), however, is still often understood to refer to immigrants (whether recent or long-standing), members of racialized minorities, and even First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Not surprisingly, courses on ethnocultural art histories tend to concentrate on the cultural production of visible minorities or ethnocultural groups. However, I also see teaching the subject as an opportunity to shift the classification of art according to particular geographic areas to consider a myriad of issues in myriad of issues in the visual field predicated on local senses of belonging shaped by migration histories and “first” contacts. As such, ethnocultural art histories call attention to, but not exclusively, the art of various diasporic becomings inexorably bound to histories of settler colonialism and Indigenous sovereignty. This leads me to reflect on some aspects of Quebec’s internal dynamics concerning nationalism and ethnocultural diversity that have affected the course of ethnocultural art histories in the province. I argue that the Eurocentric hegemonic hold of ethno-nationalist discourses on art and art history can be seen with particular clarity in this context. Moreover, I suggest that these discourses have hindered not only the awareness and study of art by so-called culturally diverse communities but also efforts to offer a more global, transnational, and heterogeneous (or chiastic) sense of the histories from which this art emerges. In today’s political climate, the project that is art history, now more than ever, needs to address and engage with the reverse parallelism that chiastic perspectives on the historiography of contemporary art entail. My critique is forcefully speculative and meant to bring together different critical vocabularies in the consideration of implications of the global and ethnic turns in art and art history for the understanding of the other. I engage in an aspect less covered in the literature on the global turn in contemporary art, namely the ways in which the mutual and dialectical relation between “cultural identity,” better described as a “localized sense of belonging” (Appadurai) and the contingency of place may shape, resist, or undermine the introduction of world or global art historical approaches in specific national institutional sites. I argue a more attentive politics of engagement is required within this pedagogical rapprochement to address how histories not only of so-called non-Western art but also diasporic and Indigenous art are transferred holistically as knowledge, if the objective is to shift understandings of the other by emphasizing points of practice in art history as a field, rather than simply the cultural productions themselves. I propose the term “global art histories” as a provisional rubric that slants the study of globalism in art history to more explicitly include these kinds of located intercultural negotiations.