Document Type Doctoral Thesis Author Van Niekerk, Leone Anette firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-08112008-190627 Document Title Documenta 11 as examplar for transcultural curating : a critical analysis Degree PhD Department Visual Arts Supervisor
Advisor Name Title Dr E Dreyer Co-Supervisor Dr A A du Preez Supervisor Keywords
- Documenta 11
- globalisation discourse
- identity politics
- postcolonial theory
- public spheres
- third cinema
- art market
- artistic agency
Date 2008-04-09 Availability unrestricted Abstract
This study investigates to what extent the curatorial project of Documenta 11 offered an operative cultural concept beyond multiculturality by favouring a transcultural approach to difference in the global sphere. It questions whether the central strategy employed – of postcoloniality as tactical manoeuvre to expand both the public and aesthetic spheres in order to create the conditions for an ethical engagement with difference – could facilitate a workable exemplar for showing art from different production sites, yet resist levelling of differences for an ever-expanding global art market.
Proceeding from the postcolonial institutional critique envisioned by the artistic director, Okwui Enwezor, this study engages critically with the notion of opening-out Documenta in terms of inclusivity and equality of representation. It is argued that while the proposed postcolonial reinvigoration of overlapping public spheres held the promise of heterogeneous participation and minimised the formation of hegemonies, the expansion-project of Documenta 11 could on another level be interpreted to function as a globalising instrument usurping previously unexplored territories and discover marketable ‘others’ for a neocolonial cultural marketplace. Documenta 11 set out to subvert the expansionism of a global art market by constructing the global as postcolonial space in which proximity became the ethical space of engagement. It is the contention of this study that by emphasising the production of locality, the five Platforms localised the global discourse and expressly addressed how inclusivity and pluralism could be approached against the disparities created by globalisation processes.
Historically, for artists from the South denial of proximity and coevalness based on colonial conceptions of space and time had meant exclusion from the canon and, where modernist notions persist, being labelled as deficient. In order to breach gaps, de-hegemonise cultural coding and aid transcultural translation, Documenta 11 located its project in its entirety in Homi K. Bhabha’s in-between space, in the gap, as it were. This orientation towards the gap is examined in terms of homelessness, displacement and nomadic subjectivity that impact the archiving logic of Documenta to become anarchival: memory production turned into counter-memory and the work of remembrance was shaped as counter-memorials.
Criticised for a skewed commitment to social engagement, rather than aesthetics, the exhibition of Documenta 11 was nonetheless informed by a threshold aesthetic. Different kinds of oppositionality employed by artists, and adversarial approaches reinvigorated by Situationist and Third Cinema strategies put forward by the curators, are evaluated in this regard. An agonistic positioning is explored as, firstly, a counter-localisation to multiculturalism in a transcultural exhibition and, secondly, to resist assimilation and co-optation. It is argued that the embrace of the threshold, of thirdness and littoral curating by Documenta 11 could be considered an exemplar of a global trickster positioning aiming for an expansion of critical visual strategies. The contention of this study is that, having set out to grapple with the construction of multiple public spheres and the space of the transnational exhibition as a creole location, this Documenta at the very least opened up discursive spaces that could expand artistic discourses. At best, Documenta 11 uncovered routes by which difference in the transcultural field could be (re)negotiated.
© University of Pretoria 2007D475 /gm
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