"Le Invasioni Barbariche: curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi"
2005-02-05 until 2005-04-09
San Gimignano, , IT Italy
Galleria Continua presents a major exhibition featuring the work of artists from Asia. A world that has great cultural diversity with respect to the Western artistic and cultural system. The artists vary considerably in terms of generation and country of origin, enabling a better understanding of the thinking and dynamics that have earned these fields of artistic practice a legitimate place within the global art system, which, until a few decades ago, was considered an exclusively Western prerogative. Pier Luigi Tazzi presents, in a clear and lucid fashion (as shown in the text that follows), the effects, causes and future presuppositions of globalization.
The invited artists are: Koo Jeong-a (born in Seoul in 1967, lives in Paris); Surasi Kusolwong (born in Ayutthaya in 1965, lives in Bangkok); Shimabuku (born in Kobe in 1969, lives in Berlin); Yang FuDong (born in Peking in 1971, lives in Shanghai); Zhang PeiLi (born in Luoyang in the province of Henan in 1957, lives in Hangzhou); Naofumi Maruyama (born in Niigita in 1964, lives in Kanagawa); Huang Shih-Chieh (born in Taipei in 1975, lives in New York); Thaiwijit (born in Pattani in 1959, lives in Bangkok); Durriya Kazi (born in Karachi in 1955, lives in Karachi).
LE INVASIONI BARBARICHE is an exhibition of the works of present-day Asian artists from such widely varied cultural backgrounds as Pakistan and Japan. The common bond that unites them is their roots in densely populated countries with long-standing cultural and civil traditions. Now, as we stand at the dawn of the third millennium, in western chronological terms, these parts of the world are no longer far out regions of the exotic, but a necessary and integral part of the world in which we live. The art produced within them is of immediate and vital presence and vivacity on the horizon of civilization in this era of globalization.
The formulation of art today is the result of a progressive development that started in eighteenth-century Europe at the time of the first industrial revolution, and the changes in production processes this caused. Thus it remained, until a few years ago, an almost exclusively western cultural domain, with the art system being composed of a centralized structure with complementary centres and peripheries. This structure entered a crisis as processes of economic globalization began to move forward and European cultural primacy began to fade. During the 1990s, other aesthetic concerns and modes of operation than those that western culture had developed arose everywhere despite the supremacy of the western model all over the world. A complex state of affairs thus began to take shape in which that model began to show the signs of its own weakness at the very moment of its victory which was precisely when different operative and expressive modes began to appear, which were coplanar and not opposite or alternative to those produced by it. The break with the typically western cultural modality, according to which an emerging model counterpoints an established one and becomes alternative to it, gaining ascendancy until its qualities of coherence enable it to become dominant and unseat the now obsolete earlier one, is perhaps the most explosive effect of the new state of the art nowadays. Artists such as Tadashi Kawamata from Japan, Rirkrit Tiravanija from Thailand, Chen Zhen and Cai Guo-Qiang from China were the most significant forerunners of this phenomenon. What marks the present generation of new artists as different is not so much their ethnic origins as their individual substance, which filters different cultural traditions and produces works endowed with a new aesthetic and expressive power. This passage through individual sensitivity ties in with the concept of art which western culture has defined over the last two centuries but is, however, different from it since these new subjects are not western. The shift towards the other-than-self that western art underwent in the second half of the twentieth century paved the way for the other, enabling it to reach its autonomous position in the art universe of today, seeing its characterizing difference as a way of affirming its sovereign singularity.
If we were to seek a parallel with such a radical change in the history of the west, it would be found in the era of the barbarian invasions that marked the end of the Roman Empire. In those days, too, the collapse of internal values just when the Empire was reaching its highest point led to a long period of war and an unstoppable flow of migrating peoples. Today, also, wars and major migrations are facts of present-day life even though the nature of war and of migratory patterns today are markedly different from what they were like in the distant past, both in the way wars are waged and also in who triggers and fosters them.
The artists presented in LE INVASIONI BARBARICHE, like the barbarians of long ago, come from the east but, unlike them, they neither are nor do they represent armed hordes. They are single individuals that modernity has emancipated and empowered to speak and put forth their song of humanity and hope for a future that is not seen as some kind of utopia better than our unhappy present, but which contains the positive values of today that the clangour of war seeks to dampen. Coming from a generation later than the artistic pioneers mentioned earlier, and now legitimized by the general system of art, these artists, each through their own forms of expression, feature this human, much too human positivity which the new empire perceives as a threat, just as the ancient one feared the threat of barbarian aggression. We have no way of knowing how long this song is or how successful it will be in imposing its melody of tranquillity on the disorderly clamouring of todays world. What we do know, and what we give the greatest credibility to, is the high regard for everything living and its values, each one different from the other and so very different from those that became affirmed on the world stage, which touch our innermost essence as living beings, despite the borders and imposed separateness. The artists come from Pakistan and China, from Japan and Thailand and from Korea and Vietnam, each with their way of being even more than their way of working, nourished by different lands of origin but driven by the nameless desire to be part of the world of life (Lebenswelt), and to bear witness to this through the knowledge of their art.