Proponents of critical global studies are committed to identifying the ways in which neo-liberal ideology and an Americanized world picture rationalize the multinational exploitation of impoverished groups and their resources. The authority of this field raises untimely questions about how such a critique can itself avoid rationalization. The influence of critical global studies was manifest in the 2002 Documenta11 in Kassel, Germany, directed by Okwui Enwezor. In its aim to represent the Zeitgeist of contemporary art every five years, the Documenta is widely regarded as the most significant event in the art world. The 2002 Documenta relied predominantly on visual media to archive local instances of socio-economic inequity and persecution. The prestige of this exhibit marks the “global” Documenta11 as a crucial opportunity for studying the strategic deployment of a high cultural venue to promote critical awareness among comfortable spectators from industrialized nations. In officiating an overtly political agenda for the exhibit, the curatorial team took the risk that Documenta11 might encourage visitors to take self-affirming pleasure in their sense of “enlightened” solidarity with its aims. The exhibit was also in danger of reifying the very suffering it displayed as a means to an institutionally sanctioned end. The Frankfurt School explicitly targets the egoism of “affirmative culture” which includes the culture of critique. This case study draws on their theory of reification in order to enunciate the limits of global critique at Documenta11 while highlighting discontinuities in its format and reception that complicate a facile rejection of its archival rationale.
Ball, K. (2004), "GLOBAL HIGH CULTURE IN THE ERA OF NEO-LIBERALISM: THE CASE OF DOCUMENTA11", Zarembka, P. (Ed.) Neoliberalism in Crisis, Accumulation, and Rosa Luxemburg's Legacy (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 121-140. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0161-7230(04)21005-7Download as .RIS
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