READING DIARY: Artistic Research in the Era of Globalization (Danny Butt)
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. 2011. An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Chapter 16, “Imperative to Reimagine the Planet”
Moten, Fred, and Stefano Harney. 2004. “The University and the Undercommons: Seven Theses.” Social Text 22 (2). Duke University Press: 101–15.
Moten, Fred, and Stefano Harney. 2010. “Debt and Study.”
E-Flux, no. 14 (March). http://www.e-flux.com/journal/debt-and-study/
Artistic Research in the Era of Globalization
Artistic Research in the Era of Globalization
After reading the four articles, I found myself becoming more and more intrigued by the writing of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Although this particular essay feels a little disjointed at times, as if this is an initial ideas ‘dump,' (for want of a better word and by no means an indication of the quality of content) I still found the value of her ideas to be something unique (for me anyway). Spivak seems to have an approach to modern cultural philosophy that is taken from an angle not usually expressed. I found her ideas on the relationship between the commonly used categorization of culture as being either traditional or modern interesting. The idea that we need to readdress or reinterpret our understanding of culture as everything being modern so that the ‘playing field' becomes more even in cultural discussions is an idea that strongly resonated with me.
Spivak asks us to reimagine the planet, and to ask the question, "How can we inscribe responsibility as a right rather than an obligation?" This issue I feel needs to be directed both towards humanity as a whole (refugee crisis, mass immigration, political leadership) and to the planet. "Learning the Aboriginal way of living as custodian of the planet," (p343) is an idea that I feel strongly about. Having purely Eurocentric policy making as the sole ingredient in governance is a narrow approach particularly when it comes to making decisions about the environment. Spivak talks about the Human Genome Project with particular reference to the project's goal of mapping the DNA of ‘pure' chromosomes – ones separated from the cultures of imperialism – such as those of indigenous communities. I also have a huge problem with this practice; however, I am unsure of the position Spivak is taking when she states that bioprospecting leads to monocultures and the death of biodiversity.
I have become fascinated with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's ideas since reading this essay, and I have watched a number of her interviews. The following is a quote from one such interview:
"We should focus on training the imagination in a way that could help the world remain ready for an ethical intervention."
There were an enormous amount of ideas presented in Spivak's writing, and a number of which were made clearer upon reading Danny Butt's book, Artistic Research in the Future Academy. The thread that connects the two essays (books) is the idea of looking back into the pages of history to understand the present as a way of reimagining the future. "… the premise of the book [Artistic Research in the Future Academy] is that a conversation with history allows us to see the present in a new way." (p12) The influence of neoliberalism, capitalism and the forces of colonialization and globalization on the university system world wide has led to the current "university system in crisis, and this has provoked a renewed interest in the history of the university and what that history can tell us about how we have reached this point." (p13).
I found the history of the University system, especially in relation to an art studio practice, really fascinating. Does art ‘fit' into such a system, especially, when we consider the long and rich historical, traditional and cultural construct of Universities? It is something I have heard a number of different perspectives on in the art community – does the rigor of academia fit the creative process of an art practice? This topic is something I am looking forward to discussing in the workshop as I am immensely interested in hearing the different perspectives. I am undecided as to which side of the fence I sit on. I see both perspectives as valid and important, and it depends on the individual artist and their practice. I am not fantastic at writing, and so I do find the process of articulating my practice into a formal academic confine challenging even at the MFA level, and yet I found that by forcing myself to try and break this barrier I have become a lot clearer in what it is that I am attempting to do as an artist. Some argue that this is up to others (audience, critics, general population) to interpret and emotively respond to your work, and often it is very different to what you had intended. There are often insights into your work that others see and that you had never previously considered. Do artists need to be able to articulate what they do or should they just do what they do? Does it make it any more valid if there is clear intention behind strong work? I remember hearing Carmen Herrera talk about this in her documentary The 100 Year Show. During the documentary, Carmen was asked to talk about her paintings, and she eloquently responded:
" If I could put those things into words, I wouldn't do the painting; I would just tell you. Usually, artists are not the best people to talk about art…you can not talk about art, you have to art about art."
I found the other two papers in the group to be cleverly written, however, less engaging. Debt and Study by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney expressed a series of relationships between debt and credit in an amusing and intelligent discourse - one that is highly relatable to any student that has embarked upon a university education. This paper does raise the very serious question of value gained from such an education when considering the idea that the globalization and commodification of the university system have significantly reduced the quality of education provided (generally). It really comes down to the university, the individual courses, the lecturers you are mentored by and the faculty as a whole. The financial burden of knowledge and education is a massive consideration for most students. The question is, should it be? The current online trend and argument for open source information, knowledge sharing, and the free economy - is there room for such ideas here? Or does it impede upon the prestige and hence the value of a university qualification?