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


ask if this language is the "language to be transformed" that Hall describes. The key idea of Szeemann's exhibition was without a doubt liberation. Indeed, the exhibition and the artists designed forms that in a nondidactic, nonillustrative way were echoing the liberation movements that emerged across the world at the end of the 1960s. The methods and the results were in many ways exceptional, though one may regret that the protagonists were exclusively European or American.[21]

The current exhibition acknowledges the importance of this predecessor, but at the same time points out that the model it represented is not an exclusive one. If our history is one of "permanent changes," looking back at a tradition started in 1969 allows us to free ourselves from it and to project ourselves in a different direction. This idea parallels the definition that Paulo Herkenhoff provides for the relationship between Brazilian culture and modernity: "Modernism in Brazil reconstitutes the past as a possibility of projecting itself in the future ... Brazilian culture reformulated rather than refused the relationship with tradition and past."[22]

Are we, today, facing comparable shifts in terms of politics, history, and aesthetics? Do those shifts define what could be called the global age? Our research for How Latitudes Become Forms took us once again to Brazil, and to a text by Hélio Oiticica, who was not in the Szeemann exhibition but might be seen as a point of departure for many of the practices we have encountered in our travels.[23] In 1966, in an essay in which he articulated what seems to be the nucleus of his activities, Oiticica wrote:

I intend to extend the practice of appropriation to things of the world which I come across in the streets, vacant lots, fields, the ambient world, things which would not be transportable, but which I would invite the public to participate in. This would be a fatal blow to the concept of the museum, art gallery, etc., and to the very concept of "exhibition." Either we change it, or we remain as we are. Museum is the world: daily experience.[24] This short excerpt contains within it many of the elements that are feeding our reflection today: the notion of proximity and locality; the idea of in-betweenness symbolized by wasteland; the outline of an aesthetic of the slightest gesture; the performativity of audiences and artists across disciplines, which is a possible lead toward multidisciplinarity; the critique of museum authority; the increasing importance of the everyday; and the subversive potential of art. These different concepts might serve as the constitutive elements of a specific aesthetic of "thirdness." The term "third" here does not designate an aesthetic geographically located in the so-called Third World. Rather, its meaning derives from the Third Cinema, a body of film theory that explore show cultural practices driven by political and cultural emancipation can equally commit to aesthetic strategies.[25] Because the aesthetic of Third Cinema does not limit itself to a geographical meaning, it can be extended across disciplines and applied to other disciplines, such as performing arts and visual arts.

The works of Japanese artist Tabaimo--anime films that are bittersweet and seductive, yet repulsive--belong to such an aesthetic (pp. 241-243). Colorful, naive, clumsy, and fragile at first sight, these narrative and poetic playlets achieve a sharp deconstruction of Japanese social systems. Her critique relies on a manipulation of Japanese stereotypes (images of the "salary man," the "Japanese woman," public baths, sumo fighters, and commuter trains) using the form of yet another Japanese stereotype: the underground anime aesthetic. The critique that results from the problematization of these stereotypes focuses on nationalism and its relationship to economic achievement or failure, reflecting a period of deep crisis of values (work, patriarchy) that alters the hierarchical construct of Japanese society. As a result, gender politics (in Japan as elsewhere) come under the gun in Tabaimo's work, though it may appear cute and girlish on a superficial viewing. The complexity of her work is that it reconciles the terms of political struggle with an attention to form and to aesthetic strategies.


21 One exception was Philippine artist David Medalla.

22 Paulo Herkenhoff, introduction to Núcleo histórico: antropofagia e histórias de canibalismos, exh. cat. (São Paulo: XXIV Bienal de São Paulo, 1998), p. 42.

23 "We" includes the Walker Art Center curators who joined me in organizing this exhibition: Douglas Fogle, for Brazil and India, and Olukemi Ilesanmi for South Africa.

24 Hélio Oiticica, "Position and Program," in Hélio Oiticica, exh. cat. (Rotterdam: Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art; Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1992), pp. 103-104.

25 See Michael Wayne, "The Critical Practice and Dialectics of Third Cinema," Third Text, no. 52 (summer 2000). In this article Wayne uses Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 film The Battle of Algiers as a primary case study for his reflections on the aesthetics of the Third Cinema.