Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Third Guangzhou Triennial: Theme

The Third Guangzhou Triennial will open from September 6th to November 16th,2008 in Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China. Opening preview will be on September 6th, 2008. The Curatorial Committee includes Gao Shiming, Sarat Maharaj and Johnson Chang Tsong-zung.

Farewell to Post-Colonialism

For the curatorial discourse of this Triennial, we propose to say “Farewell to Post-Colonialism”. This represents the theoretical basis from which we hope to explore our critical vision. “Farewell to Post-colonialism” is not a denial of the importance and rewards of this intellectual tradition; in the real world, the political conditions criticised by post-colonialism have not receded, but in many ways are even further entrenched under the machinery of globalisation. However, as a leading discourse for art curatorial practice and criticism, post-colonialism is showing its limitations in being increasingly institutionalised as an ideological concept. Not only is it losing its edge as a critical tool, it has generated its own restrictions that hinder the emergence of artistic creativity and fresh theoretical interface. To say “Farewell to Post-Colonialism” is not simply a departure, but a re-visit and a re-start.

nbsp;2008 will be exactly 40 years since the heady days of 1968. In fifty years, waves of new social movement and multi-cultural theories have woven a tapestry of rich and clashing colours out of the world’s changing social realities. International contemporary art has also benefited from the attention to socio-political issues surrounding identity, race, gender and class. But in fifty years, revolutionary concepts have also transformed into leading discourses safely guarded by “political correctness”. Post-colonial discourse’s analysis of the power structure within cultural expressions has triggered a series of cultural resistance, as well as the construction of the self as the Subject in relation to the Other. However, this kind of analysis and construction has also adversely developed an institutionalised pluralistic landscape (a multi-cultural “managerialism”) that has today turned into a new form of stereotyping. In this Triennial we wish to draw attention to the “political correctness at large” that is the result of the power play of multi-culturalism, identity politics and post-colonial discourse. Urgent issues facing curatorial practice today are: How do we establish an “ethics of difference” within the framework of difference in cultural production? How do we prevent a “tyranny of the Other” without sacrificing the grounds already gained against the power status quo?

For some years major international contemporary exhibitions around the world have worked towards building up “discursive sites for a cacophony of voices” and “negotiated spaces of diverse values”, emphasising “correctness” in cultural politics; these have inadvertently succeeded to the neglect of independent pursuit of artistic creativity and alternative imaginative worlds. Concepts of identity, multiplicity and difference are now slowly losing their edge to become new restrictions for artistic practice. In response to this, the curatorial team of The Third Guangzhou Triennial wants to bring attention to the “limits of multi-culturalism”, and say “Farewell to Post-Colonialism”.

By saying “Farewell to Post-Colonialism” we call for the renovation of the theoretical interface of contemporary art, to depart from its all pervasive socio-political discourse, and work together with artists and critics to discover new modes of thinking and develop new analytical tools for dealing with today’s world.
The curators hope this Triennial will be a process of discovery for ourselves; not just the fulfilling of preconceived ideas. Instead of claiming what this Triennial “is”, we wish to find out what it should not be. This Triennial may be understood as a locus of questions for the international art world, starting with an Exercise in Negation and a Questionnaire about art. We hope artists and critics will work with us to discover what new modes and imaginative worlds are possible for art beyond the boundaries of socio-political discourses.

The First and The Second Guangzhou Triennial Site

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