Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Farewell to Post-Colonialism

Farewell to Post-Colonialism

The Third Guangzhou Triennial

Organizer: Guangdong Museum of Art

Co-Presenter: Hong Kong Arts Development Council

Special Cooperator: Times Property

The Third Guangzhou Triennial opens from September 6th to November
16th, 2008. Opening preview is (Saturday) September 6th, 2008.

Curators: Gao Shiming, Sarat Maharaj, Chang Tsong-zung

Research Curators: Dorothee Albrecht, Sopawan Boonnimitra, Stina
Edblom, Tamar Guimaraes, Guo Xiaoyan, Steven Lam, Khaled D. Ramadan

Organiser: Guangdong Museum of Art

Co-Presenter: Hong Kong Arts Development Council

1. Concept: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.

2008 will be forty years since the heady days of 1968. In four
decades, 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 over the 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
guided the construction of the self as a Subject in relation to the
Other. However, these forms of analysis and construction have 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 triumphed 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, succumbing to
the phenomena of 'false representation' and 'multi-cultural
managerialism'. In response to this, the curatorial project of the
Third Guangzhou Triennial centres on mulling over multi-culturalism
and its limits within the larger perspective of 'Farewell to Post-

The 'Farewell' calls for the renovation of the theoretical
interface of contemporary art, in order to depart from its all
pervasive socio-political discourse in an endeavour to work together
with artists and critics to discover new modes of thinking and fresh
analytical tools for today's world. The curators hope this Triennial
will be a process of discovery for ourselves, and not just the
fleshing out and illustrating of readymade theories and preconceived
ideas. In trying to explore what this Triennial 'is', we wish to
carry out a parallel inquiry into what it should not be. In this
sense, this Triennial may be understood as a locus of questions for
all of us involved in the international art world, starting with an
Exercise in Negation. We hope to uncover, with the help of artists
and thinkers, elements of the paradoxical reality veiled by
contemporary cultural discourse, to make contact with realms that
slip through the cracks of well-worn concepts such as class, gender,
tribe and hybridity. We hope to think together with artists and
critics, and investigate through their practices and projects to find
what new modes and imaginative worlds are possible for art beyond
those already heavily mapped out by socio-political discourses.

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