Curatorial Practice in a Globalized World

Viewed on Youtube. I began watching the Guggenheim Symposium: Keynote: Curatorial Practice in a Globalized World and I was particularly interested in the views of Sara Raza and Pablo Leon de la Barra and found that this experience gave me much to reflect upon and consider in relation to my Dissertation topic of Diasporas, Loss and Globalization.

When curating an exhibition on the issue of Diasporic communities, the curator is in the position of being an observer, an outsider looking in at the community – in ethnographic research it is not uncommon for people to spend time with a culture to learn their traditions and beliefs and better understand the culture of the the Diasporic Community they are observing, their culture and their distinct culture in society, their behaviours, beliefs, attitudes, language and traditions through the observation of their daily lives and information gathered through other means, such as artefacts and journals. In Ethnographic Researcher, the purpose is to observe a group, empathise with the group and strengthen relationships without actually becoming a part of the group. However it does sometimes happen when a person spends time within such a group that they can become conditioned by the group culture and begin to develop the same cultural tendencies.

When a Diasporic Community is moving to a new land/country to reside it must be anticipated that there will be an element of hositility/tribalism from the resident community. Certainly in the case of the Patagonian Welsh, there must have been some resistance to their migration from the native Teheulche Indians, however they did attempt to help the Welsh settle into the inhospitable Patagonian land. This element of hostility towards migrating communities can be seen in the UK today, somewhat encouraged by the media, however there is also an element of the UK resident population that welcome the migrant communities and seek to help them become established within the UK. It can be seen that the some of the people belonging to these migrating communities have trades of worked in a professional capactity before they had to migrate from their homeland, these skills can only be seen as a positive contribution to the new society that they find themselves in.

The question of how I relate to these Diasporic Communities has been uppermost in my mind for some time. Yes I do feel that I am part of the Scottish Diaspora, I have a strong connection to Scotland that is at the core of my being something that I have been aware of since being a small child that sense of belonging to Scotland is a strong part of my earliest memories. Although born and spending my early years in Scotland, I essentially grew up in North Wales, where my maternal family are. At the age of 18, I could deny the pull of Scotland no more and I then returned and continued to live there for 25 years. I returned to Wales in 2009 and have continued to feel that strong sense of isolation from my homeland ever since.

During the symposium the Cultural Theroist, Stuart Hall was discussed and the fact that he was born in Jamacia in 1932 and lived in the UK from 1951 he felt isolated from both communities. This observation provided me with a connection for my dissertation and I began to research artists who are displaced from their homeland for whatever reason who continue to create art that reflects the bond that they still possess with their homeland.

The No Country Exhibition that Sara Raza curated on behalf of the Guggenheim. In curating such an exhibition Sara theorises that it is important to look at the problems experienced by the nation of interest and the relative geography and the fluidity of their nations borders. In modern times borders are more fluid and a new form of colonial occupation in some regions appears to be emerging. Also of interest and relevance in the dialog that exists between these trans national and trans regional cultures.

It is important to understand what is significant to the Diasporic Community on a Global level, how do they identify with their culture as a group and how do they identify as individuals. The population in a Diasporic Community have that sense of rootedness in their cultural history and traditions, Individuals who are displaced from their homeland also have the same sense of rootedness to their culture, traditions and beliefs. As an artist or curator we are rootless – represent everyone, the people.

A person or group that has moved away from their homeland can be described as having become de-coupled and this issue is part of the ongoing discussion relating to Diaspora. Something or Someone that is decoupled, is something or someone that is moved away from the centre without necessarily severing its roots – hence a community would then become it’s own autonomous entity.

In curating such an exhibition it’s important to reflect a contemporary Story that doesn’t sever origins or connections to history, that moves beyond regional specificity but show similarities between regional groups too and their connections/relationships both current and historical.

I decided it is important to note as part of my dissertation the issues of trans-nationalism and migration, focussing on artists that are no longer living in their homeland, possibly with dual passports – who have become their own entity whilst still connected to their roots.

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