Rolled Up / Rolled Out
21 April - 2 May 2008
Curated by Dr Irene Barberis
Rolled Up/Rolled Out is focussed on how the production of art in global cities is responding to, contributing to and influenced by the intensification and expansion of cultural flows in globalisation. The exhibition is a snapshot of the diverse art expressivities that emerge through the common experience of contemporary urban space. It is both an interface to a complex situation and a cultural lens through which to view social, political and economic forces. Art becomes a critical cultural conduit for exposing the transformation of meanings and experience in contemporary globalisation.
This exhibition will launch the Art and Urbanism research group in the Global Cities Institute.
Rolled Up/Rolled Out examines how the production of art in urban contexts is part of the intensifying and expansive processes of global cultural flows. The exhibition is a snapshot of the art expressivities emerging through diverse experiences of contemporary urban space. It is both an interface to a complex situation and a lens through which to view the interactions between cultural, social, political and economic forces. This exhibition presents art practices and products as critical cultural conduits for exposing the transformation of meanings and experiences in contemporary globalization.
This cross-cultural collaborative exhibition examines themes of mobility and cultural exchange occurring in urban spaces generated by the forces of globalization. The premise for the exhibition is an understanding of urban spaces as nodes in global networks characterized by the mobility of ideas, people and objects in and through the spaces of the city. This fluidity and movement creates a dynamic occurrence of cultural encounters, dialogues and transformations. The exhibition brings together artists who are exploring urban experiences of change (the destruction, re-development and re-construction of spaces), cultural movement, processes of knowledge transfer and exchange, and the re-imagining of place and identity.
Spontaneity and creativeness are integral to the urban habitus where change is constant and movement is part of everyday life. The physical requirement of selecting work for the exhibition based on its ability to travel easily (to literally be rolled up and moved) reinforces this theme of mobility.
The exhibition was developed by researchers from the Art and Urbanism research group. Art and Urbanism is one of the key research projects in the Globalization and Culture program of the RMIT Global Cities Research Institute. This exhibition is aligned with the Art, Knowledge and Globalization research cluster in the School of Art and Global Art Metasenta Projects. The exhibition marks the launch of the Art and Urbanism research project.
Dr Irene Barberis and Dr Kristen Sharp
RMIT School of Art
Under the surface of images, one invests bodies in depth; behind the great abstraction of exchange, there continues the meticulous, concrete training of useful forces; the circuits of communication are the supports of an accumulation and a centralization of knowledge; the play of signs defines the anchorages of power… (Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, 1991, p. 217).
Globalization was heralded by the orthodoxy in the 1990s as a kind of free market nirvana, a new, heady and inevitable force. It has also been called the final frontier, the space, which produces economic exiles, increasing numbers of people rendered homeless, jobless, voiceless, powerless in the global flows of conglomerate power bases. Here we are today, in the early years of the 21st century, in a globalized world characterized by the ubiquitous spread of the English language, people and finance capital, deterritorialized social spaces, technologized communications and knowledge systems, governed by a non-territorial centre that financier and philanthropist, George Soros (1998) called 'an abstract Empire'.
Rolled Up/Rolled Out offers a project that selects, documents, and interrogates this globalized world of interconnections and multilayered visual sites through which identity might find a constitutive framework. It identifies cultural signs and interrogates the flows and forces of cultural power. The artists are asking questions of these sites and signs with attention to the substrata of signification of cultural-political organisations of knowledge in the 'social body' of globalized forces. They are not assuming a cohesive position here; theirs is the visual syntax of mapping social spaces; they are responding with flexible modes of exchange, rolling up and rolling out their visual deliberations and spontaneous gestures.
As knowledge is formed, transferred, technologised and circulated there are interpenetrations of different types of knowledge in and of the city and selves as human subjects. With the human subject undergoing transformations of identity formation as homo economicus in globlized ideological conditions, where lie the sites of tacit knowledge of civic space, place and identity and how may such sites be read to invigorate a re-imagining — and greater understanding — of urban landscapes? The research asks how cultural identities in spaces of everyday urban life might be impacted by the emancipatory appeal of globalization. In a technologically connected world wherein modernity's spatial and cultural notion of 'the local' is open to question, the analysis of globalization as a non-material, non-physical, un-bounded, cultural, communicative network is as disruptive of connections as it is interconnective.
The artist acts as a conduit for these ways of thinking and relating, ways of knowing and questioning, ways of relating and interrogating. As global cosmopolitans artists move easily in time and space, crossing juridical, imaginary, aesthetic and epistemological borders in a re-imagining of self in relation to the urban. The aim of the research is to interrogate specific visual sites in what Foucault terms the 'circuits of communication' in public spaces, to unpack the defining narratives which make appeal to globalization, and to ask questions of the play of signs in relation to 'the anchorages of power' through local and global identities in everyday life.
Professor Elizabeth Grierson
Research leader Art and Urbanism
RMIT Global Cities Institute