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


new practices. Nevertheless, as important and reassuring as the notion of thirdness and in-betweenness is, it might only be the third step on the way to change. It is not sufficient merely to acknowledge the notion of thirdness; one needs to make it active, to pull it toward an alternative center. If not, thirdness might become a definition that restrains and limits new knowledge rather than one that empowers it.[28]

For Atelier Bow-Wow and Can Altay, the starting point for their respective projects involves inventory and documentation. This impetus to record one's own environment is apparent in many artistic practices today, most obviously in the practice of film, but not exclusively. The logic of the documentary has increasingly emerged in the visual arts over the last decade, as demonstrated by the incorporation of moving images into art practices, using models borrowed from popular culture and entertainment, including Hollywood movies, music videos, and video games.

The exigency of information and realism reveals itself in Chinese artist Wang Jian Wei's film Living Elsewhere (1999-2000; pp. 245-247). The film, which documents a failed real-estate development project in the suburbs of Beijing, seems motivated by the need to record a socioeconomical and cultural mutation. The same drive applies to Zhao Liang's film Bored Youth (2000; pp. 253-255), which focuses on Beijing's predatory urban development, even though the pure documentary language is mixed with editing strategies inherited from music videos. In both cases, documentary filmmaking becomes a means for sustaining a tradition that has almost disappeared from art practice: the tradition of storytelling.

Although she does not use moving images as a medium, Yin Xiuzhen participates in this strategy when she documents--through installations or interventions--the way in which memory vanishes with the destruction or dislocation of communities (pp. 249-251). Such artists seem to embrace a sense of civic responsibility that redefines activism as a quiet subversion rather than a frontal and oppositional attack. The powerful body of work that has erupted under this logic of documentary has also allowed the practitioners to reassert their own proximity and to locate their practices, and the consequences thereof, on a very local or regional level. Again, this movement can be seen as an effect of a widely globalized culture. Here, the urgency is to find a way to make a difference. The local is becoming the alternative, and it contributes to a redefinition of the nature of the audience through the involvement of communities.

The paradox of the increasingly globalized world is that many artists are attempting to reinvent, or to establish, their difference. This movement, which might be the unavoidable flip side of globalization, was the cornerstone of the Gwangju Biennale in 2002.[29] One outstanding feature of this exhibition was the presence of twenty-six collectives or independent organizations from Europe and Asia. These groups have emerged over the last decade as fundamental protagonists in art-making and diffusion, developing alternative strategies that affect the relationship of art to the larger world. These groups/platforms, all active in their communities as exhibition venues, educational structures, or production units, serve as a metaphor for a new arena of negotiation that lies in between the global and the local.[30]

In many ways, the projects of Kaoru Arima, developed through his Art Drug Center in Inuyama-City, Japan, echo such concerns. In his own house, Arima opened an art center to provide a platform for fellow artists who might not otherwise find venues for showing their work. With a similar attention to the value of proximity, the New Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective, composed of filmmakers and new-media practitioners, is working on a series of initiatives motivated by the desire to interpret, understand, and engage the urban construct of the city in which they live and work. One of their projects is based on the creation of a "cyber neighborhood," acenter for digital intervention with kids in a working-class settlement in New Delhi.

28 On this topic see Leslie A. Adelson, "Against Between: A Manifesto," in Unpacking Europe, eds. Hassan and Dadi, p. 245.

29 The 2002 Gwangju Biennale, titled Pause, was co-curated by Charles Esche, director of the Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö, Sweden,and Hou Hanru, freelance curator, director of the 2000 Shanghai Biennale, and member of the Walker Art Center's global advisory committee.

30 For more on this topic, see Hou Hanru's essay on page 36 in this book.