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The Nomad and the Altermodern: The Tate Triennial
Marcus Verhagen Available online: 07 Dec 2009
To cite this article: Marcus Verhagen (2009): The Nomad and the Altermodern: The Tate Triennial, Third Text, 23:6, 803-812 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09528820903371206
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the Tate took a calculated risk.1 The book made a powerful impression in much of Europe but met with a warier response in Britain where critics argued that relational work of the kind defended by Bourriaud advanced a misleadingly rosy view of social exchange and that the writer sidelined aesthetic concerns in the application of purely political criteria. which opens with ‘Altermodern’. this one involves. From the moment in 2007 when the Tate appointed Nicolas Bourriaud as curator of the 2009 Triennial. pp 51– 79. and a further three who come from Britain but live elsewhere. This is where the problems begin. The show that Bourriaud has now put together for the Tate departs from the format of the three previous Triennials in several respects. featuring performances.co. fall 2004. October. ‘Towards a Politics of Relational Aesthetics’. this show has a bold intellectual agenda. pp 269–77 2. trans Simon Pleasance and Fronza Woods. Dijon. 2002 Claire Bishop. 2009.tandf. Third Text.uk/journals DOI: 10. films.2 In hiring Bourriaud to curate the Triennial. it was clear that the show would be greeted with a widespread interest that in some quarters would be tinged with scepticism. 803–812 The Nomad and the Altermodern The Tate Triennial Downloaded by [Institutional Subscription Access] at 02:19 30 September 2011 Marcus Verhagen 1. Bourriaud saw their works as ‘micro-utopias’ that created new social bonds in an atomised society. ‘Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics’. the ‘Prologues’. which like so much of his writing employs the rhetoric of the manifesto. November.1080/09528820903371206 . Whereas the earlier exhibitions showcased the work of prominent and emerging British artists. eleven artists who are not British. Nicolas Bourriaud. Like several recent biennials. Relational Aesthetics. Issue 6.Third Text. 23. is best known as the author of Relational Aesthetics. an essay by Bourriaud himself. Bourriaud. out of a total of twenty-eight. 21:3. And while earlier Triennials were essentially surveys. Bourriaud’s text. May 2007. though two live in London. 86. talks and panels and so serving as a means of anticipating the show and mapping its central concerns. games and other social occasions and presented the resulting interactions as the artistic substance of their projects. it was preceded by a series of events. announces the end of postmodernism and the advent of a new ‘altermodern’ culture. are published in the catalogue. Anthony Downey. in which he championed the work of artists who organised meals. one by Okwui Enwezor and the other by T J Demos. who co-founded the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Les Presses du réel. Two of the talks delivered in the ‘Prologues’. as they were called. his neologism playing on the ‘modern’ of ‘modernism’ and ‘modernity’ and Third Text ISSN 0952-8822 print/ISSN 1475-5297 online © Third Text (2009) http://www. Vol.
4. Altermodernism. As Jameson famously put it. His critical reassessment of postmodernism is unconvincing and his conceptualisation of altermodernism is too vague to enhance our understanding of the art of the present. ‘trajectories have become forms’. 2009.4 Bourriaud makes no effort to engage with those post-colonial theorists who. Postmodernism. Altermodern: Tate Triennial. who has become a nomad. is actually expressing a wariness not towards postcolonial thought but towards multiculturalism as a benevolent but confining bureaucratic imperative and towards art practices that pander to reductive. or. Modernity and Double Consciousness. The point is made repeatedly: under altermodernism. Oxford. no page numbers It is worth pointing out that when Bourriaud associates postmodernism with static. 5. Fredric Jameson. It is conditioned above all by the growing mobility of the artist. Verso. essentialist conceptions of subjectivity. with a static. the concept of the national school or culture becomes uniquely unhelpful as a notional context for an ambitious show. 1993. catalogue. Fredric Jameson. or with those who. Paul Gilroy. defined in opposition to post-colonialism and postmodernism. no page numbers The putative connection between postmodernism and a postcolonial culture that concerns itself primarily with roots and origins is discussed at greater length in Nicolas Bourriaud. transport them from one point to another’. pp 25–44. p 14. 1989. on the French altermondialisation (literally: other globalisation). who moves between cultures and fashions hybrid new forms. The Radicant. he is in fact rehearsing a view that is expressed – and more cogently supported – in many of the texts of the past twenty-odd years on the legacy of colonialism and the promise of multiculturalism. 1991. It is never explained to the reader why his understanding of post-colonialism apparently differs so radically from theirs. unipolar conception of subjectivity and with multiculturalism. is the diverse cultural constellation that has emerged in response to globalisation. See also David Harvey. Lukas and Sternberg. 2009.3 This is presumably why Bourriaud invited contributions from a number of non-British artists. like Homi K Bhabha. who have considered the aftermath of colonialism in historical and not in essentialist terms. ‘Altermodern’. If the contemporary artist is a nomad. or homo viator. Indeed. Tate Publishing. for instance. consistently argued that postmodernism sees the disappearance of the unitary. his homo viator. London. such as Jimmy Durham and Sonia Boyce. moving ‘in space. he is Downloaded by [Institutional Subscription Access] at 02:19 30 September 2011 . Durham. a term that is used to designate those communities and organisations that are agitating for more equitable forms of global exchange. 7. Bourriaud’s thesis has two central flaws. turns out on closer examination to harbour elements of both. The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. with a quest for roots and origins. in speaking of ‘post-colonial postmodernism’ and implicitly aligning it with the identity politics of the 1980s and ’90s. as Bourriaud describes it. Blackwell. have warned against essentialism and the rhetoric of rootedness. The Condition of Postmodernity. That is the position that T J Demos adopts in his catalogue essay when he comments on the institutionalisation of multiculturalism and the commodification of difference. pp 12–13 et passim T J Demos.6 But the question remains: why should this bureaucratised multiculturalism stand as the truth of postmodernism? It bears little relation either to postmodernism as it is commonly understood or to the work of the many presumably postmodernist artists. And some readers will notice that his outline of altermodernism paradoxically echoes a powerful strain in postcolonial thought. time-worn notions of difference. like Paul Gilroy and Kobena Mercer. performative models of subjectivity. op cit. ‘The Ends of Exile: Towards a Coming Universality’. 6.7 When Bourriaud speaks of altermodernists as nomads who ‘transform ideas and signs. Duke University Press. The Black Atlantic. under postmodernism ‘the alienation of the [modernist] subject is displaced by the latter’s fragmentation’. In privileging movement and translation over fixity and belonging. is not unlike the sailors who serve as emblematic figures of cultural mediation in the writings of Paul Gilroy. internally coherent subject. Altermodern: Tate Triennial. NC. ‘displacement has become a method of depiction’ and works ‘peregrinate through time and space’. and his view was echoed by David Harvey. New York. in time and among the “signs”’. p 54. trans James Gussen and Lili Porten. He associates ‘post-colonial postmodernism’ with essentialism. Nicolas Bourriaud. have advanced fluid.5 A sympathetic reader might argue that Bourriaud. Altermodernism.804 3. he is at loggerheads with some of the more compelling analyses of postmodernist culture. London and New York.
2002. Bourriaud talks of the artist as a ‘semionaut’ who annexes existing signs and submits them to a process of ‘postproduction’. who was plainly intent on devising a suitably maudlin final scene for each hypothetical film. as Alighiero e Boetti did with his world maps woven in Afghanistan. by artists such as Peter Coffin. Representation. Matthew Darbyshire and Joachim Koester. have premised their work on travel. a figure who collates existing cultural forms. Lukas and Sternberg. So if we take Bourriaud’s portrayal at face value. for instance. It will take a more rigorous and sustained argument than Bourriaud’s to convince a sceptical reader that postmodernism has run its course. According to Owens. Numerous other works in the show. 1992.10 Much of the supposedly altermodernist work in the Triennial is. An examination of the nomadic ways of the artist could bring a sharpened understanding of the art of the present – but Bourriaud provides no such examination in his text. on the evidence of the Triennial. altermodernism has another drawback: it is too broadly defined. Certainly. showed a relentless cynicism. ‘Altermodern’. in Beyond Recognition. ‘The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism’.8 Elsewhere. or in reality. like Paul Gauguin and countless other artist-travellers. on one shot of a dead minke whale. As a conceptual tool in the analysis of contemporary art. in time and among the “signs”’. Craig Owens. That is not to say that Bourriaud is wrong to dwell on travel. in Owens’s sense. Many artists of the past travelled. also work allegorically on historical materials. pp 7–14 et passim 10. postmodernist work operates an allegorical doubling by appropriating sites. Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay. The horror of these scenes is conveyed not through their ostensible narratives but through the cruelty of Dean’s humour which serves on an allegorical level as an appeal for a wary and informed approach to the consumption of images. either in fantasy. we read ‘(not) MOBY DICK a cheaper production… audience sympathy with the whale… her last toothless smile… (no more shrimps)… final shot (how could they?)’. seeing the altermodernist as an artist who establishes connections between points that are remote in time or space. Many photographers. and Culture. the Downloaded by [Institutional Subscription Access] at 02:19 30 September 2011 . like the altermodernist. enlarged the postcards and covered them with the notations of an imaginary film director. in particular. is a case in point. trans Jeanine Herman. And they have long travelled to faraway locations. University of California Press. like the nineteenth-century Orientalists. Tacita Dean’s The Russian Ending (2001). op cit. Artists have always projected themselves back in time. the postmodernist sampler is still with us. Dean. artists today travel more regularly than they did in the day of Alighiero e Boetti. we are liable to suppose that altermodernism long pre-dates postmodernism – and modernism. no page numbers Nicolas Bourriaud. texts and images and redeploying them in order to suggest new and possibly critical readings. Berkeley– Los Angeles–London. for that matter. And many artists of the 1970s and ’80s reflected on the growing pace of global exchange. 9. ‘in space. a series of images based on early twentieth-century postcards of sites ravaged by war or natural disasters. allegorical.9 This conception of the artist’s work is entirely in keeping with Craig Owens’s thesis on the allegorical character of postmodernist art.805 8. This director. Power. New York. For the writer. pp 52–69 creating a picture of the artist which is consonant with the classic account of the postmodernist as a sampler. having learnt that early Danish film-makers occasionally made two versions of a film. Bourriaud. revising historical narratives or reinterpreting the scenes of earlier artists. reimagining a mythical past. one with a happy conclusion for the American market and another with a bleak ending for Russian consumption. from Maxime Du Camp to Sebastião Salgado.
But in other works. October 2006. And he adds that by photographing at night he avoids the crowds that gather at these sites by day. and Marcus Verhagen. milky light draws out the eeriness of the serrated ridges and misty valleys. the tepid. one that recognises the new avenues of exchange but also the new constraints and asymmetries that condition the experience of displacement today. and James Meyer. the rhetoric of open borders is a crucial support of the neo-liberal ideology of the open market.806 11. At the same time. and about the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea. Art Monthly. And in today’s world the most powerful are themselves nomadic as they direct and follow the flows of international capital. Almond shows several large photographs of mountains in the Huangshan region of eastern China (2008). So in sketching an indiscriminate defence of the artist as homo viator. in moving from place to place. took other photographs in the same series. Almond writes. But in elevating the nomad. even as it draws a veil over the difficulties that many. the curator glosses over the widely differing objectives and experiences of different travellers. Black Dog Publishing. in the photographs of Darren Almond for instance. ed Alex Coles. see T J Demos. In Bourriaud’s scheme. these were taken by the light of the moon. So it would appear that night-time photography allows Almond to reactivate the gaze of the romantic who. After all. the altermodernist nomad is not just an effect of twenty-first-century modernity: he or she is an exemplary figure. the artist’s power to project his or Downloaded by [Institutional Subscription Access] at 02:19 30 September 2011 . where Almond. in Site-Specificity: The Ethnographic Turn. marvels at the appearance of the natural world. the habits of other travellers largely shape the modern travel industry and so directly impinge on the movements of the artist. one that situates it in a richer sociopolitical context and uses it as a means of addressing globalisation and the more repressive mechanisms that have attended its development. have in travelling from country to country. London. tourists. inspired by the paintings of the German romantic Caspar David Friedrich. particularly economic migrants. pp 7–10. shadows the movements of other nomads – of businessmen. In some of the exhibited work. Like other photographs in his Fullmoon series. like Friedrich at Rügen. about the scroll-painter Jiang Tao who depicted the Huangshan mountains in the mid-seventeenth century. 2000. ‘Nomads: Figures of Travel in Contemporary Art’. the traveller is presented in terms that largely chime with Bourriaud’s argument.11 Bourriaud presents travel as an unambiguous good. nomad is a translator who brings one culture into contact with another and reveals in the process the cultural opportunities that are afforded by globalisation. monolithic and freely available. in a short text in the catalogue. ‘Nomadism’. We need a more nuanced grasp of the contemporary modalities of travel. the artist using an extremely long exposure to dispel the darkness and create images that resemble daytime photographs. as a visitor with a privileged perspective on the singularity of the faraway location. such as those by Franz Ackermann and Walead Beshty. This vision is predicated on displacement. The artist. a more insightful picture of travel comes into focus. particularly on the subject of movement. the show is more complex and revealing than the catalogue essay. Fortunately. Bourriaud runs the risk of suppressing the diversity of contemporary travel and unwittingly endorsing a blinkered view of globalisation. ‘The Ends of Exile: Towards a Coming Universality’. For more critical treatments of the artistnomad. pp 10–26. in the Romantic understanding. migrants and refugees – and their travels unavoidably serve as a backdrop for his or her own experience of displacement. Indeed.
Or does it? The tag can also be seen as suggesting that. On one wall is a large photograph of a man. In situating the flags next to the empty jars. While Almond elides the economic and geopolitical underpinnings of modern travel. explore them to good effect. constantly threaten to transform real entities into virtual ones. The arrangement may be understood as intimating that the power and symbolic reach of the nation-state is waning in an era of mass travel and enhanced global communications. expand on Ackermann’s dystopian fantasy while anchoring it more securely in the current order. The man who appears in the large photograph with a luggage tag dangling from his belt is pictured from the waist down and looks trim and young in his jeans – travel. bodies into signs. the artist implies that they are fit for recycling. hanging from his belt is another luggage tag. But Almond’s work also conceals. cable cars and viewing platforms. technologies which. an installation that fills a room and offers a dizzying account of a technologically advanced society in the throes of an unspecified crisis. in Ackermann’s world. other artists in the show. He may here be alluding to the dissolution of nations such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. one that recalls other such events in the past but obscures the conditions of modern travel. the cage. it would seem. Ackermann engineers a constant semiotic slippage. including flags. The artist is plainly describing an imploding society and the de-territorialising and apparently corrosive effects of the information technologies that underlie it. and so on. it hides all movement while also effacing the signs of tourism – the railings and steps. He conjures daytime out of night. while next to it lies a pile of found objects. In other words. the found objects and photograph of the traveller. the artist’s response to the site is conceived in the photographic display as a largely hermetic event. empty glass jars and used luggage tags. The series expands on the association of the full moon with magic and with altered states by presenting the photographer as a seer. who is seen from behind. his looping bands of colour look like fibreoptic cables but also occasionally like veins and sinews. In the centre of the room is a large cage or prison cell. In these images. the technical feat of illuminating the landscape standing as a metaphor for the visionary character of his gaze. following the growth Downloaded by [Institutional Subscription Access] at 02:19 30 September 2011 . presumably a traveller.807 her wonder onto the landscape that provokes it is secured by the unfamiliarity of the surroundings and their remoteness from the prosaic urban setting of the artist’s ordinary existence. The other elements in the installation. but the nearby luggage tags suggest another reading. ancient views out of contemporary tourist sites. Ackermann casts the traveller as a central figure in ‘Gateway’ – Getaway (2008–2009). These are photographs that are largely organised around their own omissions as they work to maintain a distinction between the creative engagement of the artist-nomad and the administered and commodified experience of the tourist. unmoored structures. including Franz Ackermann and Walead Beshty. in this instance. But here the signs of displacement are airbrushed. has a muted youthful glamour. But the room is dominated by large wall paintings that draw on both sci-fi imagery and modernist abstraction as they trace vast networks of cords and girders that radiate from deserted command centres and weave in and out of crumbling. his ruined structures have contours that resemble those of regions or countries on a map.
but like Ackermann he views travel as crystallising the fears that often attend inter-cultural dialogue. since in the wall paintings the signs of interconnection. so the tag here may refer to the apparatus of surveillance that follows travellers as they move between locations. that promise is connected in the photographs with the allure that air travel had for much of the twentieth century. Or it may be interpreted as a reminder of the heightened security fears that have transformed air travel since the events of 11 September 2001. The cage itself similarly serves as an allusion both to the systematic efforts of rich countries to keep economic migrants out (by means of installations such as the Texas border fence) and to the treatment that illegal migrants often receive when they are apprehended (and confined in detention centres such as the notorious one on the Italian island of Lampedusa. are hedged about with intimations of destruction and decay. goods and data but severely constrains the movements of dispossessed men and women. coloured backgrounds. which may be racial. and the development of this new economic and social order has undermined the logic and politics of place. a luggage tag acts as a marker in a tracking system. for instance. with their sumptuous patterns. for example). Manuel Castells has described the ‘network society’ that emerged. The Rise of the Network Society. the traveller has come to be treated in much the same way as his luggage. as the basis for an alternative and often reactionary social pole. The modern nomads are not for him figures who pass easily from place to place. religious or political. Beshty’s Transparencies (2007–2008). as Bourriaud would have it.12 It is in this context that Ackermann situates homo viator. stressing a single shared attribute or conviction. But this is a powerful installation all the same. For that matter. But this image is qualified by details that draw out the disappointments of travel and the barriers to migration. a world without borders in which flags are redundant. with the advent of cybernetic technology and the rapid rise in global trade. the cage echoes the grid-like patterns and skeletal architectural structures that proliferate in the wall paintings. It advances a rich and lurid formal idiom for the description of the network society and serves as a useful corrective to Bourriaud’s conception of the nomad. Inasmuch as the striations look like vapour trails. power in today’s world is not concentrated in institutions but distributed in networks. of travel and transmission. 1996 in air travel and the emergence of budget airlines in the 1990s. sketch a premise that is put forward with more ingenuity and visual brio in the wall paintings. provoking those who have been marginalised by it to form ‘cults of identity’. Oxford. Ackermann resorts at times to a heavy-handed symbolism.808 12. For Castells. On a formal level. as an item to be processed. but travellers who are at risk of losing either their bearings or their liberty in a network society that depends on the efficient transfer of capital. re-combining various cultural artefacts. when it Downloaded by [Institutional Subscription Access] at 02:19 30 September 2011 . the first of those images is as desolate as the second. The flags and recyclable jars. So ‘Gateway’ – Getaway puts forward an image of a fully networked society. Ordinarily. in the aftermath of the economic crises of the 1970s. Beshty has a more laconic manner. bear ghostly striations against hazy. bring to mind the photograms of artists like Man Ray and more generally the promise that abstraction was seen to hold in the interwar years. which were realised by passing unexposed photographic film through airport X-ray machines. These pictures. Manuel Castells. Blackwell.
as Paul Virilio has repeatedly pointed out. silicone and cardboard. Verso. such as the mirrored cubes of Robert Morris. 2008 – ongoing. International Priority. Los Angeles. famously celebrated the social encounter as an artistic form. a concern that also animates many of the works on display at the Tate. glass Tate Photographylaminate. in The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the Turn of the Century. but other interests and affinities are also apparent in the show. pp 68–89 14. courtesy Wallspace. It is intriguing to find private worlds such as these in a show curated by the man who. sitting on the cardboard boxes in which they were packed. In the FedEx Boxes as in the Transparencies. p 43 connoted freedom and discovery. not as a being whose cultural responses are conditioned by specific historical pressures.809 13. often reflecting in the process on the nature of artistic labour. who routinely have their luggage checked by X-ray machines and their identities by fingerprinting and iris recognition devices. MA–London. 2009 Berlin. The images bring about the collision of those heady associations with the more nervy experiences of contemporary travellers. ‘Gateway’ Getaway . the show also demonstrates a commitment to work that embraces narrative and speaks in the first-person singular. Angeles–Tijuana. photo: courtesy with safety glass Downloaded by [Institutional Subscription Access] at 02:19 30 September 2011 . Cambridge. which is an artistic medium. London. Los Angeles–London. The Logistics of Perception. Hal Foster. while in their cracks they recall structures damaged in violent conflicts. trans Patrick Camiller. In their installations. Then again. Among the few works in the show that can be said to have a relational dimension are the witty installations of Bob and Roberta Walead Beshty. The cubes. Paul Virilio. Indeed. fixated. Jay Jopling/White Cube and Neugerriemschneider. Bourriaud’s text revolves around nomadism. 2008–2009. New York and China Art Objects Galleries. October 28. in Relational Aesthetics. when military advantage often hinges on the ability to see while remaining invisible and aerial reconnaissance is carried out by planes that are effectively flying cameras.14 Beshty shows a spare irony as he remedies this in his cubes. 1996. Beshty is alert to the multiple uses of photography. we are addressed as political beings. Tijuana–Los Angeles. of course. his concerns have plainly evolved. some of which are made out of mirrored glass and so reflect a cracked image of the viewer and the gallery. in War and Cinema. minimalism ‘does not regard the subject as a sexed body positioned in a symbolic order any more than it regards the gallery or the museum as an ideological apparatus’. the artist drawing a remote but discomfiting parallel between the gaze of the viewer on the one hand and the attention of the security guard or military planner on the other. Installation of–FedEx® Large Kraft Boxes© 330508. but also an instrument of surveillance. Hal Foster argues that the minimalist object forcefully situates and interpellates the viewer but he regrets that in this address the viewer is considered primarily as the subject of phenomenological perception. wall painting. Signs of displacement are also overlaid with hints of violence in Beshty’s FedEx Boxes (2008–2009). photo: courtesy Tate Photography Franz Ackermann. Losoil on canvas and watercolour. MIT Press. It is clear as you walk from room to room that the curator has a taste for psychedelic effects and for works that tap incontinent carnivalesque energies – literally so in the case of Nathaniel Mellors’s video installation Giantbum (2009). in Foster’s own terms. installation. Beshty foregrounding the globalisation of the artworld and the nomadism of the artist while clearly using his materials and technical aids to reframe those processes so that they resonate with the globalisation of violence. mixed media. glass cubes that have been sent by delivery service from one exhibition to another. 1999. 2008–January 16. possibly delusional figure. ‘The Crux of Minimalism’. have cracked surfaces that testify to their travels. They are plainly modelled on minimalist objects. photographic technologies are pivotal in the conduct of war. More surprisingly. . courtesy the artist. Mike Nelson and Lindsay Seers comment on their own artistic trajectories and hint that the artist is a lonely. ‘A Travelling Shot over Eighty Years’.13 So in these works visual pleasure turns out to be a contingent effect of the militarisation of areas of transit and a corollary of the erosion of civil rights in the name of counter-terrorism.
International Priority. 2008–January 16. Installation of FedEx® Large Kraft Boxes© 330508. 2008 – ongoing. Tijuana–Los Angeles. October 28. Berlin. mixed media.810 Downloaded by [Institutional Subscription Access] at 02:19 30 September 2011 Walead Beshty. installation. Jay Jopling/White Cube and Neugerriemschneider. Los Angeles–Tijuana. Los Angeles–London. 2008–2009. wall painting. 2009. ‘Gateway’ – Getaway. silicone and cardboard. New York and China Art Objects Galleries. photo: courtesy Tate Photography Franz Ackermann. Los Angeles. courtesy the artist. glass with safety glass laminate. oil on canvas and watercolour. courtesy Wallspace. photo: courtesy Tate Photography .
to the divergent trajectories of those who have benefited from globalisation and those who have not. who used conversations with Bourriaud himself as the basis for many of the placards that litter ‘their’ (actually. courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery.811 Downloaded by [Institutional Subscription Access] at 02:19 30 September 2011 Bob and Roberta Smith. courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery. There are echoes in Bourriaud’s text of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s vision of nomadism or exodus as a form of refusal Bob and Roberta Smith. photo: courtesy Tate Photography Smith. photo: courtesy Tate Photography . mixed media. as Bourriaud does in the catalogue. 2009. Off Voice Fly Tip . The Triennial is a compelling show that is organised around a weak premise. his) works and reflect corrosively on the intersecting histories of political protest and consumer culture. mixed media. is to turn a blind eye to the unevenness of global development. 2009. To celebrate the nomad without discriminating between different experiences of travel. Off Voice Fly Tip. Even here the artwork is not unambiguously relational in the sense that it records rather than instantiates the encounter.
Ackermann works to create an idiom that adequately conveys the phenomenological thinness and discontinuity that are. as Bourriaud would have it. concentrate on the very phenomena that are screened off in his photographs. MA–London. he or she magically resolves them. while Beshty comments on the rise of a global state of emergency. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Almond stages a succession of visual epiphanies. Harvard University Press. It does not present a consistent picture – nor should it. no such qualifications intrude on Bourriaud’s analysis. Viewed as a coherent figure. which is also blind to the obstacles that stand in the way of many wouldbe travellers. on the other hand. but even Hardt and Negri qualify their view by adding that to many migration brings only poverty and isolation. but where travel explicitly serves as a means of insertion into global circuits of trade and migration. his or her travels result not just in a new set of combinatory cultural forms.15 Sadly. offers sharp insights on modern travel. 2000. so he plainly feels. Where the artist pictures the pathways of global exchange from within. But in its better moments it uses the nomadism of the artist as a means of tracing the contours of a globalising world. notably Ackermann and Beshty. Empire. And in their pieces that retooling speaks to the violence and disruption that have accompanied the processes of globalisation. isolating travel from its material basis and so lifting it out of time. . Cambridge. but other artists. What their installations share is the conviction that new economic and geopolitical realities call for retooled artistic forms and strategies. The show itself. but in new ways of examining global exchange. the cost of global integration. The nomad is directly implicated in the contradictions of globalisation. as a nomad. pp 210–14 and hence a liberating political gesture. it can bring those contradictions out in high relief.812 Downloaded by [Institutional Subscription Access] at 02:19 30 September 2011 15.
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