Review of "Curating in Asia"
2011-12-09 - 2011-12-10
Of Mediating in the Global Age.
A Review by Sara Giannini.
The conference “Curating in Asia” (ZKM, 09-10.12.2011) was a follow up of the workshop that the research program Global Art and the Museum had held in Hong Kong in collaboration with the Goethe Institute in 2009. The challenging task to frame curating in Asia in many cases brought the discussion to the topic’s very theoretical foundations. The audience was able to witness a tendency – which is perhaps symptomatic of a deeper need – to find definitions and metaphors for a contemporary figure oscillating between being an organizer, an interpreter, a communicator, an author and even an artist.
We learned from Zoe Butt’s experience in Vietnam that the curator can also appear as “the stylist of culture;” we then listened to John Clark confirming this attitude by naming the curator a ‘teaser’, and therefore stating the shift from exhibition-making to a new form of artistic creation. Patrick Flores struck the audience with a listing of curator typologies in South-East Asia: from the art historian to the “networker-curator,” who travels along rhizomatic paths of events, meetings, workshops and exhibitions. I asked myself whether the latter had inspired Werner Kraus’ sharp critique of Indonesian curators. In an anthropological attempt to sketch out the present landscape of curating in the country, he skeptically portrayed the Indonesian curator as the merantau, a cosmopolitan fellow who returns home with a load of French philosophy in her/his suitcase. In Kraus’ contribution global cultural heritage was divided into private lots to be handled without any possibility of re-appropriation. What I myself tried to point out was a diametrically opposed issue. By dealing with Ai Weiwei’s work I showed how a trans-national “citational” practice always “excites” local dialogues, and thus questions the colonial understanding of culture as a struggle for possession.
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More informations on the conference and participants can be found here: http://www.globalartmuseum.de/site/event/399