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date: 21 September 2020

Exhibitions of Asian contemporary art in the Westlocked

  • Jane DeBevoise


Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, work by artists born in Asia has become increasingly visible in the West. Economic growth first in Japan, then in Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South-east Asia, and most recently in China, focused the attention of Western observers, and caused a new generation of curators to shift their sights from classical culture to contemporary art. At the same time, globalism became a curatorial imperative and the seminal, yet controversial, exhibition, Magiciens de la Terre, organized by Jean-Hubert Martin in 1989 at the Centre Georges Pompidou and Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris, included a strong selection of work by contemporary artists from Japan, China and India (see Globalization and art). Called a courageous attempt to depart from the hegemonic and monocentric cultural perspectives of Western European and American institutions (B. Bulloch, A. America, May 1989, p. 151), this exhibition stimulated an intellectual debate that continues to resonate in the 21st century. Some of the complex issues that characterize this debate include the definition of marginality, cultural authenticity and hybridity, contemporaneity and the co-existence of traditional and modern, local and global realities, the role of political and social context and critique, and the impact of colonial and neo-colonial influences and attitudes....

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