Walker Art Center
Globalization from the Rear: "Would You Care to Dance, Mr. Malevich?"

The problem now is how to nail down this notion of modernity. Is modernity to be considered a purely European phenomenon born in the early nineteenth century with Kant and Hegel? Is modernity to be defined as an epistemological practice that privileges reason and knowledge over faith? Is modernity a theory that claims universal truth? Is modernity tied to a historical period, geographical latitudes, or philosophical attitudes? Or is it all of these things? Michel Foucault seems to embrace the "attitudes" interpretation when he writes about Kant: "It is the first time that a philosopher has connected, in this way, closely and from the inside, the significance of his work with respect to knowledge, a reflection on history and a particular analysis of the specific moment at which he is writing and because of which he is writing."[17] In this case, modernity would be away of relating to contemporary reality within a culture, within a history, within a location, and within a geopolitical construct. Even though the debate on modernity is much larger than the scope of the current project, the most satisfactory interpretation at this moment and in this specific context might be the one developed by Stuart Hall, in which he questions artistic modernity as a history of triumphal practices located in the Western world. He stresses the concept of modernity as a language or a set of languages to be translated: "The world is absolutely littered by modernities and by practicing artists, who never regarded modernism as the secure possession of the West, but perceived it as a language which was open to them but which they would have to transform."[18] If we go along with Hall, does the history of modernities (and again the plural is crucial) trace the history of practitioners giving themselves latitude with regard to a language, taking liberty with a canon?

Perhaps for this reason of languages and translatability, the Walker Art Center decided to invite a multidisciplinary committee of advisors from seven different locations/latitudes in order to rethink its premises in light of the global discussion; this collaboration initiated How Latitudes Become Forms.[19] Our seven "latitudes" were Brazil, Japan, China, India, Turkey, South Africa, and the United States (the Walker's home). Each location should be understood as an example that could, metaphorically, suggest other territories in the world. Each latitude is a case study for an analysis of current artistic forms and practices.

It may be useful here to trace the genealogy of the project's title. How Latitudes Become Forms builds on the exhibition that Harald Szeemann curated in 1969 in Bern, Switzerland, titled When Attitudes Become Form: Live in Your Head. This project was--and still is for many practitioners in the contemporary art world--a model, a starting point. It defined the form of many international exhibitions that followed (institutional or not). It marked the moment when the curator became an author, but more importantly, it gathered very early on a group of artists who radically affected the notion, the process, and the site of art-making.[20] Under the categories of "multiformal or non-rigid art," "conceptual or ideational art," "earthworks and organic-matter art," "geometric abstraction," and "procedural or process art," Szeemann identified a range of practices sharing at least two parameters. The first was that most of the artists in the show were developing site-specific works, or works that relate to their location. The second was that all of the artists liberated themselves from the illusionistic and anecdotal function of art in order to privilege forms and processes. They defined an international language of art, still available and active at the center of many young artists' practices today. It would be legitimate to

17 Michel Foucault, "What Is Enlightenment?" in Foucault Reader (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), p. 38.

18 Stuart Hall, "Museum of Modern Art and the End of History," in inIVA Annotations 6 (London: Institute of International VisualArts, 2002), p. 19.

19 See the listing of global advisory committee members on pages 8-9.

20 The artists in When Attitudes Become Form were: Carl Andre, Giovanni Anselmo, Richard Artschwager, Thomas Bang, Jared Bark, Robert Barry, Joseph Beuys, Mel Bochner, Alighiero Boetti, Marinus Boezem, Bill Bollinger, Michael Buthe, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Paul Cotton, Hanne Darboven, Jan Dibbets, Ger van Elk, Raphael Ferrer, Barry Flanagan, Ted Glass, Hans Haacke, Michael Heizer, Eva Hesse, Douglas Huebler, Paolo Icaro, Alain Jacquet, Neil Jenney, Stephen Kaltenbach, Jo Ann Kaplan, Edward Keinholz, Yves Klein, Joseph Kosuth, Jannis Kounellis, Gary B. Kuehn, Sol LeWitt, Bernd Lohaus, Richard Long, Roelof Louw, Walter de Maria, Bruce McLean, David Medalla, Mario Merz, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Claes Oldenburg, Dennis Oppenheim, Panamarenko, Pino Pascali, Paul Pechter, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Emilio Prini, Markus Raetz, Allen Ruppersberg, Reiner Ruthenbeck, Robert Ryman, Frederick Lane Sandback, Alan Saret, Sarkis, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Keith Sonnier, Richard Tuttle, Frank Lincoln Viner, Franz Erhard Walther, William Wegman, Lawrence Weiner, William T. Wiley, and Gilberto Zorio.