Considering 20th Century art one may easily configure a set of systems leading towards nationalism and colonialism. The provocative book How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art by Serge Guilbaut pinpoints the relation between CIA, the legendary curator of MoMA Alfred Barr and the well known abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock.
Nowadays, how nationalism flirts with contemporary art? Lately Hito Steyerl, in her lecture performance Is The Museum a Battlefield? at the 13th Istanbul Biennial ‘Mum, Am I Barbarian? ‘ clearly portrayed the connection between gun/war makers and supporters of museums/biennials. In the introduction of the book Contemporary Art and Nationalism – Critical Reader, editors Sezgin Boynik and Minna L. Henriksson, give a good example of labels in contemporary art such as ‘Balkan,’ ‘Young British Artists,’ ‘Nordic Miracle,’ ‘Kurdish Video Art,’ ‘Moscow Conceptualism,’ and so on.
Last Sunday there was an interesting discussion at Flutgraben e.V. in Berlin about the latest work Counter-constructivist Model (La Fontaine stories for immigrants) — paper film in nine acts* by artist Minna Henriksson and theoretician Sezgin Boynik. During a residency in 2012 at Botkyrka Konsthall in Fittja, a suburb of Stockholm, they started to interrogate the so called social art or projects with immigrants that have been developed by states and, say, the naivity of their interests. The experimental book − including image footages, texts and interviews − points out issues such as multiculturalism, cultural nationalism, whiteness and segregation whilst giving references to Frantz Fanon, Black Audio Film Collective, Walter Benjamin, Louis Althusser and Art & Language. The talk stimulated the question in my head one more time: How innocent are they while they claim that they are helping the other?
- Please read the fable The Fox and The Stork by La Fontaine depicting a story about being in someone else’s shoes.