Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
In this international exhibition, a group of artists have been invited to present work commenting on the meaning of Europe, its history and present day realities. The major theme is related to the question of how European is Europe, which allows artists to critically examine Europe's meaning and the contradictions between homogenizing official narratives and the everyday realities of urban life, where heterogeneity and hybridity are the living norms.
Curated by Salah Hassan and Iftikhar Dadi
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons (Cuba/ USA, 1959), Heri Dono (Indonesia, 1960), Coco Fusco (Cuba/ USA, 1960), Ni Haifeng (China/ Netherlands, 1964), Fiona Hall (Australia, 1953), Isaac Julien (UK, 1960), Rachid Koraichi (Algeria/ France, 1947), Ken Lum (Canada, 1956), Nalini Malani (India, 1946), Johannes Phokela (South Africa/ UK, 1966), Keith Piper (UK, 1960), Anri Sala (Albania, 1974), Yinka Shonibare (Nigeria/UK, 1962), Vivan Sundaram (India, 1943), Nasrin Tabatabai (Iran/ Netherlands, 1960), Fred Wilson (USA, 1954), Shi Yong (China, 1963)
In this international exhibition, a group of artists have been invited to present work commenting on the meaning of Europe, its history and present day realities. The major theme is related to the question of how European is Europe, which allows artists to critically examine Europe's meaning and the contradictions between homogenizing official narratives and the everyday realities of urban life, where heterogeneity and hybridity are the living norms. The theme is timely, given the political climate in Europe, its shifting demographics, and the rising xenophobia and hardening of immigration policies.
As Jan Nederveen Pieterse argues: 'the division between the West and non-West, or between North and South, ranks as the greatest divide in contemporary history'. For some time now, the majority of critical texts and exhibitions have focused on deconstructing Eurocentrism, Orientalism and Western views of the so-called 'other', taking Westernization and European cultural hegemony at face value. That is, the 'North's' overwhelming impact on the 'South' is an accepted fact. Rarely do these texts focus on Europe itself as the 'other'. The recognition that Europe is increasingly 'multicultural' due to immigration may be praised as a positive step toward an acceptance of diversity and tolerance of difference. However, it also implies the assumption of a 'pure' European culture and civilization in origin and essence.
It is these assumptions that this exhibition, and its related projects seek to challenge. Imperialism and western hegemony have made it easy for us to forget that European modernism, and the evolution of its history from the period of the Renaissance and onwards, stands on the shoulder of other cultures and civilizations. As Edward Said argues, European modernism 'has many parents.' The real borders between Europe and non-Europe are much more 'blurred' and 'porous' than what is assumed in most texts on European civilization.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a seminar and a companion book/catalogue are planned to address these issues within the context of the current international power relations, and from local and global perspectives.
Salah Hassan is a professor of African and African diaspora art history and visual culture in Cornell University's African Studies and Art History Depts. He is editor of NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art. Besides, he's the curator, along with Olu Oguibe, of 'Authentic/Ex-centric: Africa in and out of Africa', a major exhibition at the 49th Venice Biennale, which will be on show till September 30 2001 in Palazzo Fondazione Levi. The artists involved in this project are: Willem Boshoff, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Godfried Donkor, Rachid Koraichi, Berni Searle, Zineb Sedira, and Yinka Shonibare.
Iftikhar Dadi is a doctoral candidate in History of Art at Cornell University and an artist who has widely exhibited internationally.
Unpacking Europe is produced by: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam in relation with Erasmus 2001 Project and in collaboration with Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.
Sponsored by: Minsterie van Buitenlandse Zaken, Minsterie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschappen, Mondriaan Stichting, Caldic, UNESCO, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, NCDO, Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, Hivos, The British Council, Institut FranÃ§ais des Pays-Bas (list as of June 2001).
Initiated by: Rotterdam 2001, Cultural Capital of Europe/ Mira Kho
The International Film Festival Rotterdam, taking place from January 23 till February 3, 2002, will also bring attention to Unpacking Europe with new works by Shirin Neshat (Iran/USA, 1957).
Also from 12 December till 24 February 2002 in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen: 'Proposals for a collection; Optical . Retinal . Visual . Conceptual', an exhibition composed of work from the museum collection curated by Okwui Enwezor, director of Documenta XI, and co-curated by Sarat Maharaj. In special collaboration with Richard Hamilton and other artists, and with students of the Jan van Eyck Academy of Art.
For more information, please contact Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen at 0031 - 10 - 4419 400
Image: a work by Anri Sala
Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum
Museumpark 18-20 3015 CX Rotterdam