GLOBAL VISUAL CULTURES


From a decade now, gvc has collaborated with universities, art centers, and non-for-profit organizations located in different parts of the globe. The interdisciplinary scope of this forum allows the convergence of scholars, artists, curators, activists, educators, and art critics, amalgamating different cultural backgrounds and professional insights. Our projects explore the social form of artistic/curatorial experimentation, aiming at making sense of the multiple visual cultures coexisting in our globalized world. In order to achieve these goals, gvc promotes aesthetic/epistemic displacements, encourages new forms of artistic hospitality, and advocates a decolonization of our practices of looking.

Assuming the concomitancy between visuality, modernity, and coloniality, gvc is devoted to shift the geography of vision. In a collaborative way, gvc elaborates on topics such as the non-Eurocentric revision of art history, the global juxtaposition of multiple artistic modernities, and the disruption of Westernized knowledges when institutions come to represent cultural diversity and to endorse artistic cosmopolitanism. Among others, gvc encourages the interdisciplinary convergence of the following fields:

 

More often than not, the interplay between disciplinary knowledge (anthropology, art history, sociology, etcetera) and visual culture studies is perceived as an arena full of epistemic disruptions and ambiguities. Global and Translocal Visual Anthropology are good examples of this dilemma. For instance, in his response to the Octobers’ questionnaire on visual culture, Martin Jay recognized the permanence and importance of the anthropological approaches but, at the same time, he considered some anthropologic concepts as “imprecise and inadequate” points of departure for visual studies. Considering the aftermaths of debates related to issues such as the ‘pictorial turn’ (W.T.J. Mitchell) or the ‘iconic turn’ (Boehm), suspicions that have risen as a consequence of what has been described (in part because of the influence of Hal Foster’s perspective) as the ethnographic turn need to be reconsidered in the frame of the global coloniality. Because of the fact that transcultural and intercultural dimensions of visuality have been systematically disregarded, the anthropological antinomies of current global visual cultures seems to be a plausible terrain for extra-disciplinary research. In its complexity, however, this unexplored field demands a more accurate understanding of issues such as the representability of Otherness, the stereotypification of cultural differences, or the translatability of an image between different geocultural landscapes and temporalities. A critical view on cultural exchanges, visual opacity, alterity, and hybridity will be part of the intercultural agenda of a new sort of global visual studies.

The geopolitical dimension of global art and of world art studies deserves an extensive and more radical critique. The decolonial option offers a critical perspective of diverse issues related to cosmopolitanism, aesthetics, and visuality. Anibal Quijano had talked about the coloniality of power; subsequently, the debates of the ‘decolonial group’ have expanded this concept and talked about the coloniality of knowledge and the coloniality of being. If we are to accept that the aesthetic project of modernity consisted of an epistemic/sensorial partition on the one hand, and that ocular-centrism drove and still drives the spatialization of modernity as a global regime on the other, then we have to consider as well the coloniality of seen. In our view, rather than a fourth ingredient of coloniality, modern visual regimes recombine the complexity and complementarity of the other three levels: the epistemological (knowledge), the ontological (being) and the corpo-cratic (power). From this point of view, coloniality of seen opens an analytical perspective of ocularcentrism and ‘Westhetics’, both sustantial elements of the modern-colonial gaze. In a nutshell, we could say that the modern/colonial world-system has given way to a permanent reinvention of diverse ‘luminous’ regimes that, on one hand, cyclically construct and devour the Other, and displace and hide the sameness of the observer-subject on the other.

There is an evident and unavoidable intensity of global relations and cultural exchanges on a wide geographical scale, which deeply drives and transforms our local, national, and transanational imaginaries. Migratory displacements of people and information, new international regimes of the labor market, economic and symbolic image flows, and the worldwide circulation of cultural assets and immaterial resources have become part of our global interconnected world. However, global, globalization, and globality studies tend to avoid the historical dimension of modernity and coloniality. The so-called New Global History for instance focuses almost exclusively on the last decades, that is, in the late modern globalization process. Following this trend, more often than not global art studies talk about phenomena derived exclusively from the 1989 geopolitical crisis, emphasizing the ideological antagonism between cultural homogenization and neoliberal free market. In a period of enhanced globalism activity and national/regional realignments, monolithic views on modernity, global capitalism, cross-cultural art, or postcoloniality need to be questioned constantly. If our goal is to decolonize the Eurocentric background of global studies we need to construct, as Arjun Appadurai has pointed out, various accounts and various histories of the multiple globalizations and temporalities.

Museums, monuments, and memorials are ‘sites of conscience’, that is, arenas for the articulation of local and global memories. However, the production of divergent social memories in these new museums requires a huge amount of visual negotiations, multidirectional claims, and institutional disagreements. In order to deal with intercultural issues emerged from the colonial past, state terrorism, or dictatorial regimes,  these ‘sites’ have started to include artistic apparatuses and to develop aesthetic strategies in their attempt to give shape to a more sophisticated public debate concerning intercultural social memories.

By examining diverse ‘educational turns’ within the art world, curators and educators deal with issues such as the museum as a pedagogical tool or the relation between institutional critique ans the so-called aesthetic regime of art. Professor Irit Rogoff has reclaimed a more ‘implicated’ participation of diverse audiences within  the ‘exhibition complex’, that is, for the collective deconstruction of concepts such as creativity, artistic skills, autonomous aesthetic perception, or individual experience. In order to amplify these ideas, we argue that the ‘aesthetic’ dimension of pedagogy combines the poetics and the politics of art.  Artistic Research (AR) is thus understood as an implicated political activation of the senses.

Rather than a traditional academic field, the so-called Digital Humanities (DH) is an inter-institutional and multi-skilled discussion on the production, dissemination, accessibility, diversification, and visualization of knowledge. At stake in the discussion are not only topics such as text coding, digital scholarly publishing, online collaborative editing, data analysis, or software studies, but also the future and scope of the humanities as a discrete epistemic terrain. During the last decade, the DH experienced a vertiginous academic consolidation. But not everything has been easy concerning the understanding and implementation of DH in academic departments. On the contrary, the concept has been and still is today perceived with skepticism, and more often than not criticism against DH is fully justified. Issues related to inaccessibility, discrimination, commodification, and standardization of knowledge are recurrent concerns and common anxieties. Systematically, scholars ask questions such as: Where is cultural criticism in DH? To what extend do DH avoid racial, gender, and sexual debates? What is the relation between DH, flexible labor, and cognitive capitalism?

 
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