Described by Tim Griffin as events 'endowed with a transnational circuitry,' contemporary festivals, biennales, triennials, and other large-scale exhibitions have served as increasingly prevalent form for creative, cultural, and scholarly exchanges. Yet, these exhibitions have also complicated the ways in which critics consider the elements, roles, and effects of artistic production and exhibition. While large-scale exhibitions have amplified concerns about 'curatorial dictatorships' and the potential homogenisation of cultural expression, they have also enabled a greater visibility of projects and approaches outside the mainstream and have challenged the viability of 'center/periphery' thinking in a global art market.
Important questions arise: Can large-scale, transnational exhibitions adequately engage with the complex rhetorics of globalisation whilst maintaining relevance to exhibitions' unique localities and specific cultural contexts? Do mega-exhibitions facilitate what Okwui Enwezor calls 'greater methodological and discursive flexibility,' or do they become 'cultural safaris'-succumbing to the disadvantages of and disorientations caused by their sheer size and sprawl?
This session is an important part of the 2008 Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, to be held at the Tate Britain and Tate Modern from April 2-4, 2008. The session will explore the critical, cultural, commercial, geopolitical, and aesthetic debates that have surfaced in relation to large-scale, transnational exhibition programming. It will also examine the effectiveness of such exhibitions' mediation of global and local concerns and their overall ability to establish sustainable connections between the museum, the academy, the studio, and the viewer. Papers are invited from art historians, critics, curators, artists, administrators, and others whose research and experience contribute to an elucidation of these timely concerns. Papers examining these issues as they pertain to Asian, African, South American, and Oceanic exhibitions and/or art practices are particularly invited.
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