Salzburg Symposium on Global Art

On July 29th and 30th in Salzburg, a symposium on global art with Nancy Adajania, Hans Belting, Bassam El Baroun, Monica Juneja, Jitish Kallat and Christian Kravagna (website here).

Talks include:

  • Hans Belting, “World art and global art. A new challenge to art history”
  • Monica Juneja, “Art history’s new atlas of belonging”
  • Nancy Adajania, “In the age of Babel, the conspectual approach to global art can only be a vexed one”
  • Gerardo Mosquera, “Beyond anthropophagia: art,  internationalization and cultural dynamics”
  • Jitish Kallat, “GPS Coding the imagination: can you tell where the artist is looking?”
  • Bassam El Baroni, “The art that does not make it internationally: key reasons revealed”
  • Senam Okudzeto, “Art, ego and effectiveness: constructive challenges for social sculpture in the age of social networking”



Globalisation is generally taken to refer to an economic process. But what does this worldwide development signify for art? Are we at the beginning of a new development, which we might call global art – and what do we understand by this? How far do the new living conditions of globality influence contemporary art? Since art has been internationally linked for centuries, is there now some new quality that distinguishes global art? How does what we might call global art relate to the debate on post-colonialism? These issues will be debated in a 2-day symposium, 29 – 30 July 2011, in which theorists and artists will attempt to clarify the term and the concepts involved in “global art”. The symposium will be organised by the Austrian and Swiss sections of the AICA (International Association of Art Critics) together with the Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts. Global art – wish or reality?

“It is time to re-stage the world”, writes the Indian cultural theorist Nancy Adajania. Her aim is to achieve a state able “to release the cultural self towards others in a manner that bypasses dependency and embraces collaboration, making for a productive cosmopolitanism”. Thus the objective is a society based on exchange and mutuality.

The basis of this “re-staging” is globalisation, which Adajania counters with “globalism”. While globalisation refers to the world economic transformation process, which started in 1989, globality stands for life in a globalised world. According to Ulrich Beck, the term refers to the way of life in a “perceived or reflexive world society”, determined by multiplicity without unity. Globalism, according to Beck, is the neo-liberal ideology of globalisation: economic activity displaces political activity, with the aim of world economic dominion. Adajania, on the other hand, sees “globalism” as “a reflection on, and antidote to, globalisation”.

Global art

For art, globalisation means first of all the end of western hegemony and the beginning of a world trade market. With globalisation, more and more artists enter the global art market, followed by galleries and collectors from a variety of cultures and regions. The influence of globalisation is beginning to emerge clearly in the themes of the artworks. Globality is increasingly under discussion, as for instance when at the 2008 Sharjah Biennial, the Indian artists’ collective CAMP, with their radio and book project Wharfage call maritime trade a “space of conflict”, inviting viewers to see the picturesque ships in the Emirate not as motifs for tourist snapshots, but in the global context of the goods, the working conditions and the restricted rights of the seamen. In his grand-scale installation Nations, the Indian artist N.S. Harsha – who was awarded the prestigious British Artes Mundi Prize (worth ₤40,000) in 2008 – stretched threads from 192 sewing-machines on which the national flags of all the United Nations countries appear to be in the process of manufacture; this is a powerful image for the fellowship of all countries in the tangle of nations and the many interconnections between them. Taysir Batniji uses a widely-known artistic language when he photographs Israeli watchtowers in his native Palestine à la Bernd & Hilla Becher, thus politicising the functionalist style of the Düsseldorf couple.

Is this global art? Does global art refer generally to art created no longer from the standpoint of western cultural superiority, but from the experience of globality and under the conditions of globalisation? Is global art a collective term for works that trace the history of images and their worldwide dissemination – or does it refer to those works, which manage to overcome the long outdated geo-political division of the world into western/non-western? Is the mark of global art a worldwide intelligible visual language, or is it the use of themes concerning globalisation? Or is global art the wish for and the promise of a multicentric perception of the world, in which local and global are expressly linked, traditions and current developments juxtaposed, and boundaries of cultural hegemony open to discussion?