Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Altermodernism; Beauty in the Creolisation of Cultures

Fight of Oppositions. (Kampf der Gegesatzlichkeit), Wilfred Maria Blum. 1993, H25cm. German Ceramics 1900-2000. Ceramic Review 201 May/June 2003. Photography -Henning Arndt.

In developing ideas for the fruit (of ideal beauty see previous blog entries) it is necessary to contextualize the concepts from a theoretical perspective. This blog entry therefore provides a glimpse into recent thought about contemporary art experiences. I chose the ceramic piece (above) because of its title and more importantly, its exquisite beauty. The stylisation of the forms and complimenting surfaces embodies everything I love about ceramics; a masterly crafted ceramic sculpture further enhanced by a suitable choice of clays and glazes.

Manifestation of synchronicity.
However I was initially unaware of its close association with the subject at hand (yet again a manifestation of synchronicity). The lion and the unicorn are the major characters in the heraldry of the United Kingdom. The lion representing England and Wales whilst the Unicorn is a symbol for Scotland. The traditional legend of enmity between the two heraldic animals is recorded in a nursery rhyme (below) linked to historically significant events in the history of cultures merging to form an integrated nation. The rhyme's significance is expressed in a variety of cultural contexts throughout history. It is within the context of globalization that such narratives are often revisited as cultures are "furiously and knowingly coming into contact with each other" (Bourriaud, 2009). Folklores and identities are often the focus of art works (in translation) as expressed in curatorial discourses and practices in the contemporary art experience.

The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown
The lion beat the unicorn
All around the town.
Some gave them white bread,
And some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum cake
and drummed them out of town.

Unicorn. The lunar, feminine principal, with the lion as the male;chastity; purity; virginity;perfect good; virtue and strength of mind and body; incorruptibility. The conflict between the lion and the unicorn represents solar and lunar powers and the pairs of opposites (Male-female forces). Lion is the king of beasts. Ambivalent as both solar and lunar, good and evil. As solar it represents the heat of the sun, the fiery principal; majesty; strength; courage; fortitude; justice; law; military might. (Copper JC, An illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, Thames and Hudson. 2005)

Beauty in the Creolisation of Cultures..
Birnbaum sates that the Art at the Venice Bienalle 2009 was created in the knowledge that we are living in a world where cultures are coming together, "changing by exchanging, through collisions and ruthless wars - but also through breakthrough of moral concious and hope". He refers to Internationalisation as an emancipatory power that liberates individuals from the limitations of their local culture and that there is undoubtedly a "homogenizing tendency towards the levelling of cultural differences, turning the world into a place of monotonous sameness". It is at this juncture that Art acts a counterforce - "an insistence on differences that have nothing to do with the political reactionary return to nationalism" (The Venice Bienalle, L'UOMO 401 2009; 246) .

His expressed views on the Bienalle should be reviewed against the manifesto of Nicolas Bourriaud (curator of the fourth Triennial Exhibition), in support of the title for the exhibition Altermodern as outlined below.

Nicolas Bourriaud states that Post-modernism is dead, and that we are experiencing the emergence of a global altermodernity; "multiculturalism and the discourse of identity is being overtaken by a planetary movement of creolisation; cultural relativism and deconstruction, substituted for modernist universalism, give us no weapons against the twofold threat of uniformity and mass culture and traditionalist, far-right, withdrawal" Altermodern Manifesto Tate Triennial 2009.

Modern, Postmodern, Altermodern?

"Multicultural ideaolology pretends to resolve the problem of modernism from a quantitative point of view: more and more 'cultural specificities' rear their heads, and, supposedly, this is positive. A new internationalist spirit has taken up the relay of the modernist universalism, but it lies in the internationalism of folklores and of ' identities'. Artists are looking for a new modernity that would be based on translation; What matters today is to translate the cultural values of cultural groups and to connect them to the world network. This 'reloading process' of modernism according to the 21st century issues could be called altermodernism, a movement connected to the creaolisation of cultures and the fight for autonomy, but also the possibility of producing singularities in a more and more standardized world" (Nicolaus Bourriaud, Director Palaisde Tokyo, Paris)

Barry B L (1992), The Creolization of Liberalism, www.ed.uiuc.edu.
Bourriaud N (2009), Altermodern Manifesto, www.tate.org.uk.
Cvoro U (2005), Transforming Aesthetics (Conference Report), eprints.usq.edu.au
Birnbaum D (2009), Young outlook on art's WOLRD stage, L"UOMO,246.
Jones J (2009), The altermodern love, www.guardian.co.uk
Belcehr S (2009), altermodernism is the new world order, www.artreview.com
Sheller M, Creolization in Discourses of Global Cultures, books,google.co.za


Unknown said...

Thanks for another excellent entry, as always informative and enlightening

Anonymous said...

hi eugene... loved the post, as an american, i'm always puzzled by the recitation of nursery rhymes to our children (we've done it) and that the origins and meanings seem to be mostly tangled up with british aristocracy or at least european events. it begs the question, why no american nursery rhymes... guess it went out of fashion never to return. it is strange nonetheless that these types of stories were exported to the vast colonial empire that the sun apparently couldn't set on.