Accepted paper:

Exhibiting India: The Opportunity Cost of a 'Global art history'


Rattanamol Singh Johal

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines recent exhibitions of contemporary art from the Indian subcontinent on the global stage and suggests that the resulting democratisation and homogenisation of works is the price paid for the blurring of borders in configuring a 'Global art' history through exhibitions.

Paper long abstract:

In his text, 'Contemporary Art as Global Art: A Critical Estimate', Hans Belting notes, "Global art may be critical in political terms, but it is also critical in terms of art categories defined by inclusion or exclusion. New art often blurs any kind of border between mainstream art and popular art, abolishing the old dualism between Western art and ethnographic practice by using indigenous traditions as a reference..." The paper seeks to dissect and further complicate this line of thinking by examining some recent exhibitions of contemporary art from the Indian subcontinent, on the global stage: 'Paris-Delhi-Bombay' (2011), Centre Pompidou, Paris; 'The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today' (2010), Saatchi Gallery, London; 'Chalo India: A New Era of Indian Art' (2009), Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and the art fair ARCO '09. I suggest that the inclusionary impetus fostered by the art world's rapid globalisation has translated into large-scale exhibitions aimed at encapsulating the current state of art production in a specific geo-political region (here, India) to offer an easily consumable cross-section of political, religious, social, ecological and art historical concerns. The resulting democratisation, homogenisation and trivialisation of the work - its underlying context, history and rigour (or lack thereof) - is the price paid for the blurring of borders in the current process of configuring a 'Global art history' through exhibitions.

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