Where is Art Contemporary? The Global Challenge of Art Museums II
2007-10-19 - 2007-10-20
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe
With the conference Where is Art Contemporary? The Global Challenge of Art Museums II the ZKM is bringing representatives together from museums all over the globe. They have been invited by the ZKM to state the situation as they see it concerning the museum as an art institution today, relating experiences that are often entirely different than those we encounter in this country. Presently many theories exist regarding what a museum of art is, is not, or should be. But normally we are not aware of what the practice of art museums looks like that must operate with an entirely different concept of art, one that is not exclusively western.
Above all, such questions arise with respect to contemporary art, something that would normally only concern us in matters of marketing. By contrast, this conference intends to debate the concept of art following its globalization, which has produced entirely new developments outside western civilization. Not only art museums have been affected by this, but also what were formerly the ethnological museums, which are now being converted into museums of the cultures of the world. Representatives of both museum genres will be meeting together at the conference for the first time. The conference thus aims to help open up a certain ghetto that has resulted from the western experience of art. Themes and questions will be presented that have often received no attention until now. Finally, with this conference, the ZKM will be introducing a new project, in which the museum question is asked in a new and timely manner. The speakers will be giving their talks in three sections, each dedicated to one of the large regions of today’s world. The first section will address conditions in Africa in a broader sense and expand our view to the Middle East. The second section will be devoted to the newly arising geography of art and the many museum foundations in Asia and the Pacific region. In the third section once again prominent representatives will introduce the conditions that are yet again different in Latin America. As an institution comprising museums, research laboratories, and its own production facilities, the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe understands itself as a relay station within a network of such partner institutions where contemporary art plays a major role. The ZKM serves a fundamental purpose for technology and art that today, especially in light of its 10-year anniversary, demands a global perspective.
The catchword of all recent scientific and political debate, the term globalization defines itself through technical progress, especially in the areas of communication and transportation technologies, as well as through the new development of supra-national power structures and the radical social changes resulting from this. While global cities are forming into a new economic world order, capital, people, ideas, pictures, and goods move around the world with ever-increasing speed, setting up a network of communication, production, and consumption that spans all continents.
As this takes place, globalization has also reached the terrain of the international art scene, revealing its involvement with economical and cultural political interests. While the art markets, collectors, and art fairs still reap all the attention for themselves, the same does not apply to public museums and cultural centers. But precisely these latter institutions will be the ones to largely and lastingly decide how the globalized practice of art will change in the individual regions of the world. This applies to post-ethnic production as well as to parting from a concept of art which is still colonial, i.e., western. In a decentralized world what is contemporary is perceived in very different ways. Both institutions that have been collecting western contemporary art to date, and also others, whose field of concentration has, until now, been restricted to ethnic arts and crafts, must henceforth rely on a new type of dialogue, which our conference intends to instigate.
The conference places emphasis upon those institutions that are immediately affected by the no longer existing boundaries, but also the contradictions found in the practice of art. The concern will be for what needs to be defined anew in contemporary art after it has been removed from its western frame of reference. It has to do with the institutionalization of an art that has emerged in the biennales established worldwide. Is their institutionalization at all compatible with conventional museum practice, which is so bound to a local audience? The future of the museum will be discussed, dealing with the question of its sense and purpose. This conference aims to create a venue for this debate where the future may begin.
The conference was supported by