rethinking art history
It was fascinating to listen to curator Charles Esche's lectures this week at Peacock's WORM gallery and at Gray's, (older version here). He talked about the importance of knowing the history of modern art and how it relates to where we are now as a culture. Since it was mostly an exclusive geographical group of heterosexual white men it exuded the rest of the world. Esche is director of the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, and is working towards getting away from the white cube structure and opting for a more rounded inclusive form which lends itself to discussion and brings cultures and communities together. It's interesting to see how and if museums and cultural organisations attempt to deal with this acknowledgement. Yale University has recently scrapped an art history survey course, says the Yale Daily News, because it understands that there is more than one story in art history. This was in response to student "uneasiness over an idealized Western canon" of artists.
So the important thing is to know your background, your history and the missing pieces that you carry with you and at the same time to see how to be more inclusive and understanding of the wider world. Can we see the bigger picture? Can you attempt to realise the experience of others? It comes back to the inner and outer world of the artist/person. It is about having an understanding and a sense of self, but also carrying an awareness/knowledge and an empathy for the other. By stretching beyond the confines of the individual understanding, transformation and growth occur.