n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - What "global art" and current (re)turns fail to see : a modest counter-narrative of "not-another-biennial"




What is the scope of "global art" and who drives its framing within the current climate of 'corporate globalization' (Demos 2009 : 7, emphasis in original)? In what ways do the recent global turn and curatorial turn underwrite meaningful global inclusivity and visibility, and to what degree does this globally shared art constitute mutuality? Does "global art", including the accompanying process of biennialisation, allow for local narratives in a way that seriously accounts for a geopolitical view of contemporary art in the twenty-first century? While the inclusion of "new art worlds" in what Belting, Buddensieg and Weibel (2013) term "global art" is framed as a democratisation of contemporary art and the demise of the western art canon, it is important to raise questions regarding the blind spots of this supposedly global, post-1989 expansion. In this article I analyse the current discourse of "global art" as articulated in The global contemporary and the rise of new art worlds (Belting, Buddensieg & Weibel 2013), focusing on its origin, transcription, mapping, consumption and ultimately, Isuggest, its emergence as a function of privilege. Challenging the charting of supposedly new art regions (Belting 2013 : 100), which "writes-out" local narratives and counter-narratives, I argue for a logic of subtraction in place of a logic of addition. While the latter triumphantly implies that "new" art worlds have been added to the dominant core, the former is useful to a geopolitical perspective that strips away normative vision and actively seeks that which people often fail to see. In this paper I analyse the work of CAPE Africa Platform in South Africa, which, while briefly and erroneously used as "evidence" of biennialisation and global expansion in The global contemporary, was locally referred to as "not-another-biennial". Discussing what some see as the shortcomings of the Cape 07 and Cape 09 exhibitions, I propose a reconsideration of measures of "success" and "failure", suggesting that an embrace of "failure" can enable new ways of seeing the privilege of the contemporary art world. It is only when blanks, failures and things presumed not to exist are carefully regarded, that the goal of achieving mutually shared art on a global scale might become possible. Only then does it become apparent that the global south can have a certain edge over what is viewed as the prevailing art world.


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