The Politics of Spectacle and the Global Exhibition Symposium
Dates: September 24 to September 27
Deadline for CFP: August 25, 2008
Gwangju Biennale, Korea
The 7th Gwangju Biennale is pleased to announce a symposium accompanying its exhibition: Annual Report: A Year in Exhibitions. The symposium and an associated two day seminar will run over a period of four days, from September 24 to September 27.
Call for Contributors
Contributions to the symposium will be based on invitations to a select number of international participants. In addition, the Gwangju Biennale invites proposals from contributors, who are encouraged to submit abstracts of possible presentations centered on research related to the subject of the symposium. Submissions should be directed to James Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org and Sohl Lee, email@example.com by August 25, 2008.
Since the beginning of the nineties, and accelerating well into this century, a remarkable transformation of the field of contemporary art exhibitions has occurred. We have witnessed not only the exponential growth in the number of large scale exhibitions, but most importantly the dispersal of models of large scale exhibitions into emergent cultural landscapes that were previously peripheral to the traditional circuits and networks of cultural visibility. A crucial element of this transformation is the positioning of the large scale exhibition paradigm between the dialectic of the politics of spectacle and the global culture industries. Here the contemporary art exhibition sits at the nexus of national and regional agendas and the aleatory forms of transnational culture.
This symposium aims to consider the notion of the Politics of Spectacle and the Global Exhibition in response to changes shaping the distribution of global culture. Two types of cultural convergence make this moment ripe for speculative review around the productivity of the exhibition form: first, this year marks the anniversaries of May 1968 student rebellion and workers strike in France, and the May 18, 1980 Gwangju civil uprising. The continuing examination of these two events in the recasting of the history of radical politics and the emergence in their wake of radical cultural practices provides a contemporary theoretical horizon around which to think forms of contemporary art and activism. Second, it is also the latest defining moment of a rapidly metastasizing system of art fairs, biennials, and mega exhibitions. In particular 2008 marks the year in which no less than ten biennials and triennials are set to open in September in the Asia-Pacific region alone.
Anchored by the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the convergence of these events and the various national and regional agendas – cultural, economic, political – that define them, exemplify both the magnitude of the changes taking place in Asia, but also the scale and ambition within which they are occurring. Such scale and ambition, and the confidence with which they are pursued have led to the idea of this moment possibly being the Asian century. Clearly, it is no longer a question of whether or not biennials or similar formations are here to stay – but rather, to see how they might become productive, to both fit and surpass the horizon of spectacular manifestations around which they are designed and also to articulate the various forms of cultural politics shaping their growth.
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