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Spatial Boundaries, Cultural Transgressions, and Breaks in Time

Jean-Marc Poinsot
Traduction de Simon Pleasance
Cet article est une traduction de :
Limites spatiales, transgressions culturelles et ruptures temporelles

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1“One of the distinctive features of the contemporary international art world is that although cultural difference is now more visible than ever before, the unspoken rule is that you would look a bit dumb if you made a big issue out of it,” explains Kobena Mercer. In our pages, Maureen Murphy describes the current state of African-American, black and diaspora art. The title of her article about recent events, such as the inauguration of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, and the exhibition The Color Line: African-American Artists and Segregation, at the Quai Branly Museum, brainchild of Daniel Soutif, clearly highlights the fact that such matters are evolving, and that they are re-casting venues, modifying representations, and rending histories more complex.

2The African-American diaspora does in fact differ from British Black Art, and we have a lot to learn from those who are developing a more subtle and detailed history of this. This history is constantly being given new life in present-day artistic activities and in the development of “interpretive model addressing every period in modernity” (p. 75).

3This is what is happening with the current state of play, discussed here by Antje Kramer-Mallordy, concerning Mário Pedrosa, who was the founder of the Brazilian association of art critics, following the creation of the AICA in Paris at UNESCO headquarters, a relentless champion of Brazilian neo-concretism (see the article by Heloisa Espada), and also the first “decolonizer of the museum of modern art” in Brazil (to borrow the words of Cristina Freire in a paper given at the 49th AICA congress held in Havana, in October 2016). Mário Pedrosa is also an example of an insufficiently discussed phenomenon, the special relations between psychoanalysis and people involved in the Brazilian art world, but this history still has to be written.

4The paradigm of cultural anthropology, which has deeply marked the history of culture in Brazil, has long been one of the rare alternatives to the main stream, before the claims of sexual and racial minorities brought in works and ideas fashioned by their struggles. More local constructs have been just as well developed in other terrains, such as South Korea, in the form of Lee Yil’s demands. As a critic who is as well-informed about the postwar French scene and the theoretical debates developed in the United States between the 1950s and the 1970s as he is about the specific nature of the South Korean scene in the face of Chinese and Japanese input, he demanded, for the artists he championed, a distinct time-frame marked by the war between the two Koreas, but also by the reverse assimilation of geometric abstraction and Informal Art.

5In another kind of narrative about the overall assimilation of modernity, Bruno Fernandes refers to his own research into the figure of Itô Mika, through the fascinating exchanges of the spectacularized nude introduced by the Americans into Japan in the immediate postwar period. He strives to define that forgotten figure against a backdrop of the history of the striptease, avant-garde dance, and a comparative cultural narrative concerning the sexualized body. Bruno Fernandes differs markedly in his approach from the more aesthetic one of the “talking body” developed by Roland Huesca with regard to Simone Forti and the relations between art, dance, and performance, as a deconstruction of a body that is already there.

6The deconstruction of the norms applying to the female body in South Africa is a complex undertaking with which Julie Crenn grapples under the heading “Essay”, newly created in our list of contents. In her piece, she turns it into a critical work through the choice of already well-known artists, and artists waiting to be discovered, whose works she mentions in some detail while at the same time trying to bring out the critical and political prospects in question. Among other things, she reinstates the debates between feminism and womanism(Alice Walker, 1979). These debates are thehallmark of something specific singling out the struggles of a certain section of black women in relation to white feminists.

7Under the heading “Revisiting History”, Elitza Dulguerova deals with the book Exhibition, Design, Participation. “an Exhibit” 1957 and Related Projects. Here we discover the typical example of a specific work in which the artist, as a singular and unique individual, does away with himself before a work devised as an arrangement rather than as a work of art. The exhibition here functions like a relational structure activated by visitors. From a reading of this article based on the collaboration between Richard Hamilton, Victor Pasmore and Lawrence Alloway, Nicolas Bourriaud, who is interested in the effects of the history of exhibitions and curating in their links with the exhibition as spectacle, enlarges the issues raised by relations between artists, curators, critics, dealers and academics. His article is based on the current work of Olafur Eliasson at Versailles and Huang Yong Ping at the Grand Palais. The exhibition is thus reduced to the “generalization of a permanent encounter between the artist and the exhibition venue, gradually getting rid of all intermediaries and all historical, geographical, and social contextualization of the artistic production,” namely, of any contribution by the critic and/or curator to a sound understanding of the work.

8Critique d’art is not limited to this exploration of the boundaries and breaks in discontinuous spaces. I could not wind up this editorial without calling attention to the new heading “Essay”, which is replacing “Theory & Criticism”, attempting, with the INHA and the Institut français, an experimental association combining a travel and writing grant with the intentions of a young critic. The primary aim of this grant is the publication of a critical essay in our pages. We are hereby confirming the special attention we intend to pay to emerging authors.

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Jean-Marc Poinsot, « Spatial Boundaries, Cultural Transgressions, and Breaks in Time », Critique d’art [En ligne], 47 | Automne / Hiver 2016, mis en ligne le 30 novembre 2017, consulté le 22 juillet 2018. URL :

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