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  • 1 Research Institute for Art History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest
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I will begin by looking at the current situation of the national and post-national issues in art history with examples of some large scale international exhibitions. Then I will touch upon the question of whether the issue of national and post-national fits in the frame defined by global, regional and local. Finally, returning to my first example, I will raise some questions of the local–global perspective.

  • 1. Elkins, James: Is art history global? Art seminar series, (Routledge), New York – London 2007.

  • 2. Artwork : Kultur und Freizet by Andreas Fogarasi, Curator: Katalin Timár, National Commissioner: Zsolt Petrányi. “The Golden Lion for an outstanding national participation is being given to a Pavilion where architecture and cultural history are deployed to generate intelligent and poetic relations between content, visual language and structural display. The Jury also considers important the artist's approach to modernity, its utopias and failures in the context of a shared history. The Golden Lion for the best national participation is awarded to the Hungarian Pavilion featuring the artist Andreas Fogarasi.” (30.06.2008).

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  • 3. Some examples from the most popular art periodicals: the critic of Balkon hasn't spent even a word on Fogarasi's art work – though the magazine, being informed of the prize, published a reproduction of his work –, Új Művészet (Art Today) called it boring, a failure and also uninterpretable for those who did not know the Hungarian background, and Műértő (Art Conoisseur) considered it a wash-out. Balkon (2007), 11–12., pp. 3436.; P. Szabó, Ernő: A végtelen óceán. Az 52. Velencei Biennále (Shoreless Ocean. The 52nd Venice Biennial), Új Művészet (2007), augusztus, p. 12.; Somlyódi, Nóra: Kultur und Freizeit, Műértő (2007), július–augusztus, p. 15.

  • 4. Krauss, Rosalind: The Optical Unconscious, (The MIT Press), Cambridge, Mass.–London 1994.

  • 5. The Venice Biennial, being the oldest amongst the international biennial exhibitions, also proves to be a suitable example through which changes can be assessed. The same time it manifests how the survival of an old structure stipulates the later practices of exhibition-making. Today there is about 60 Biennials in the world (30 in Europe), 51 were established after 1989.

  • 6. However, the critique of Thomas McEvilley was positive: “All in all… the truly historical element was the shift away from nationalism.” McEvilley, Thomas: Venice the Menice, ArtForum Vol. XXXII (1993), October, p.104.; Paolo Bianchi on the contrary, referred to this Biennial‘s connections with fascistic ideology, and he called Oliva‘s endeavour transnational rather than international, having migration, nomadism, eclecticism, multiculturalism, as its main features. Bianchi, Paolo: Nomaden, Faschos und Kritikerschweine in Venedig? Dissidente Gedanken über die Philosophie der 45. Biennale von Venedig. Kunstforum 124 (1993), pp. 333336. Marcia E. Vetrocq presumes this biennial suffers from identity-crisis. Vetrocq E., Marcia: Identity-Crisis – 1993 Venice Biennale art exhibition. Art in America (1993), September, (01.07.2008).

  • 7. Lamereaux, Johanne: From Form to Platform: The Politics of Representation and the Representations of Politics, Art Journal Vol. 64 (2005), Spring, pp. 6473.; Greenberg, Reesa: Identity Exhibitions: From Magiciens de la terre to Documenta 11, Art Journal Vol. 64 (2005), Spring, pp. 9094. Giorgio Verzotti compares the exhibition in Paris to one section of the 1993 Venice Biennial, stating, that both were mystifying multiculturalism instead of analyzing the differences between cultures. “The problem is that if multiculturalism is to be interpreted without mystification, it must be examined as a dialectic of dominant and dominated cultures in which each necessarily affects the other. At the same time, an analysis of this dramatic interpenetration should avoid postulating any reassuring harmony between cultures of the center and of the margin. Instead, it must inevitably recognize conflicts and reveal contradictions, analysis of these conflicts being the only way out of the frightening regressive symptoms our world is displaying.” Verzotti, Giorgio: “Aperto 93” The Better Biennale. ArtForum Vol. XXXII (1993), October, pp. 104105. (105.).

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  • 8. Szeemann, Harald; Liviero Lavelli, Cecilia; Facco, Lara (ed.): 49. Esposizione internazionale d'arte. La Biennale di Venezia. Plateau of Humankind, Exhibition catalogue (Electa), Milano 2001. Openness of the spectators is obvious, considering the fact that the Biennial has more and more visitors. There were 260.000 in 2003, 265.000 in 2005 and 319.332 in 2007 visitors only in the two main venues. (01.07.2008).

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  • 9. Dr. Fabényi, Júlia (ed.): La Biennale di Venezia 2001. 49. Esposizione Internazionale D’Arte. Padiglione d'Unheria. Hungarian Pavilion. Magyar Pavilon. Interazione Socile / Social Intercourse / Társasági közlekedés. Tamás Komoróczky – Antal Lakner, Exhibition catalogue (Műcsarnok), Budapest 2001, p. 240.

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  • 10. The title of Francesco Bonami's exhibition was Dreams and Conflicts, and it included 10 other exhibitions by different invited curators: showing art from Africa, Asia, South-America, Eastern-Europe etc. (This transnational program however ignored the postnational, international or global tendencies.).

  • 11. Tatai, Erzsébet: Neokonceptuális művészet Magyarországon a kilencvenes években (Neo-Conceptual art in Hungary in the nineties), (Praesens), Budapest 2005.; András, Edit: “Transgressing boundaries (even those marked out by the predessesors) in new genre conceptual art.” In Art after conceptual art. Ed.: Alberro, Alexander and Buchman, Sabeth (The MIT Press and Generali Foundation) Cambridge, Mass., London, England and Vienna, Austria 2006, pp. 163177.

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  • 12. Enwezor, Okwui: “The Black Box”, In Documenta 11_Platform 5: Exhibition. Kassel, June 8–September 15, 2002. Ed.: Enwezor, Okwui, (Hatje Cantz Publishers), Kassel 2002, pp. 4255.

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  • 13. Lamoureux , op.cit. pp. 7273.; Greenberg, op.cit. p. 90. (Not. 7.).

  • 14. Considering their birth-place from 127 artists: there were 33 from Western-Europe, 32 from Asia, 19 from Eastern-Europe, 17 from North-America, 14 from South America and 12 from Africa. The number of African artists was still hardly more than one third of Europeans, and women artist (47) were presented just with 37% (if we consider just the artist of 20th and 21st centuries, this proportion arises to 41%). This rate until that time has never been reached. Buergel, Roger M. – Noack, Ruth (ed.): Documenta Kassel 16/06–23/09 2007. Documenta 12, Exhibition catalogue (Taschen), 2007.

  • 15. Habermas, Jürgen: A posztnemzeti állapot és a demokrtácia jövője (The Postnational Constellation and the Future of Democracy), In A posztnemzeti állapot. Politikai esszék (The Postnational Constellation. Political Essays) Budapest 2007, pp. 57102.

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  • 16. Némedi, Dénes: A nem kizáró közösség. A posztnemzeti állapot, 2006. (The not excluding community. The postnational condition. A study of a 2006 OTKA research, not published elsewhere), (2008. 06. 29.); Purchla, Jacek; Tegethoff, Wolf with Fuhrmeister, Christian and Galusek, Łukasz (ed.): Nation, Style, Modernism (Comité International d'Histoire de l’Art), München–Krakau 2006; DaCosta Kaufmann, Thomas: National Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Aesthetic Judgments in the Historiography of Art. In Holly, Michael Ann and Moxey, Keith (ed.): Art History, Aesthetics, Visual Studies, (Yale University Press), New Haven & London 2002, pp. 7184.

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  • 17. In her refined analyses of the relationships between nation and gender Yuval-Davis pays distinguished attention for the intertwining of discourses of power based on different othernesses (race, class, language, religion etc.) She emphasizes that individual groups contain a complexity of different identities and calls attention to the their diverse views. She gives a new classification of notions of nation and pays special attention to the cultural representation of the nation from the point of view of globalization and multiculturalism as well. Yuval-Davis, Nira: Gender and Nation, SAGE Publication, 1997; Nem és nemzet, (Új Mandátum Kiadó), Budapest 2006.

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  • 18. Jürgen Habermas : Mi az, hogy nép? A Vormärz szellemtudományainak önmegértése az 1846-os frankfurti germanista konferencia példáján, (What is a People? The Frankfurt “Germanists‘ Assembly” of 1846 and the Self-Understanding of the Humanities in the Vormärz) In Habermas ibid. pp. 1129 (15–16). (Not. 15).

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  • 19. Some art historian don't share this opinion: “… as we know it, art history is obviously not global” – writes David Summers (in Elkins ibid. 126.); “Clearly, art history is not global” – starts her essay Kitty Zijlmans, (ibid. 289) This is of course both ambigiuous and complicated – as DaCosta Kaufmann noted too (ibid. 357–358.), while Elkins raised the question of its possibilities. (Elkins, James: Art history as a global discipline, in op. cit. 3–23.).

  • 20. Bauman, Zygmunt: The Elusive Universality, In Postmodern Ethics (Blackwell), Cambridge. Mass. 1993 (pp. 3762). A megfoghatatlan egyetemesség (univerzalitás) Magyar Lettre Internationale 51 (2003), tél. Nonetheless The idea of universality has not faded, this is guaranteed by such notions of culture as Terry Eagleston's. Eagleton, Terry: Culture wars, in The Idea of Culture ( Blackwell), 2000 pp. 5186. Egyetemes kultúra és lokális kultúrák (kultúrháborúk) Magyar Lettre Internationale, 51 (2003), tél.

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  • 21. Global Tendencies : Globalism and the Large-Scale Exhibition (Panel Discussion), Tim Griffin (introduction), James Meyer (moderator), Francesco Bonami, Catherine David, Okwui Enwezor, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Martha Rosler, and Yinka Shonibare. ArtForum Vol. XLII (2003), November.

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  • 22. Amor, Mónica, Liminalities: Discussions on the Global and the Local, Art Journal Vol. 57 (1998), Winter, p. 28.

  • 23. Szalai, Erzsébet: Az újkapitalizmus és ami utána jöhet (New Capitalism and after), (Új Mandátum Kiadó), Budapest 2006.

  • 24. Konrád György : Magyar Lettre Internationale 39 (2003), ősz, p. 8.

  • 25. As James Meyer, the moderator of quoted panel discussion notes (Not. 21.) or from the side of curatorial practice it is evident from the statement of curator Manray Hsu. “It's impossible to be informed if you don't travel – globally and constantly. … Very few writers can afford to do this. Curators with generous travel budgets (for ‘research’) can. I think that's what's really behind the phrase ‘tyranny of the curator,’ for me at least: the recognition that it's the curator who is most informed, who is most able to articulate what's interesting and important in art practice. The ‘global’ structure demands a criticism that can keep up with its evolution.” James Meyer, op.cit. (Not. 21.). Manray Hsu: “My job relies on my traveling. But an important part of this issue is contemporary culture, [which is] a global culture. There is no simple big narrative that can allow you to say, okay, I know the whole art world. So you need to have people from different parts of the world who can bring their perspective and their experience into the field. And normally these people are curators and theorists,” “When a Western artist exhibits in a professional exhibition, normally the exhibition will not mention the locality [where the ideas are formed] and I feel this is more questionable.” “Some artists are really conscious of their local history and some artists work on more formalistic issues inside art history so the idea of locality [is] relevant to artists in different ways, no matter if it is Western [or] Eastern.” Buchan, Noah: Making the global local and the local global. (interview with Manray Hsu) Taipei Times, Sunday, Dec 03, 2006, P. 18 (30.06.2008).

  • 26. György, Péter: Körmagyar. Múzeumi rendszerünk egy lehetséges kritikája (One practicable critique of our museum system), Élet és Irodalom (2008/22), május 30. p. 15.

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  • 27. Műértő (2008), június, p.7.


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